Skip to main content

ACS & ASCO are Stronger Together: Cancer.Net content is now available on



Can Myelodysplastic Syndromes Be Found Early?

On this page

At this time, there are no widely recommended tests to screen for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). (Screening is testing for cancer in people without any symptoms.)

MDS is sometimes found when a person sees a doctor because of signs or symptoms they are having. These signs and symptoms often do not show up in the early stages of MDS. But sometimes MDS is found before it causes symptoms because of an abnormal result on a blood test that was done as part of a routine exam or for some other health reason. MDS that is found early does not always need to be treated right away, but it should be watched closely for signs that it's progressing.

For some people who are known to be at increased risk, such as people with certain inherited syndromes or people who have received certain chemotherapy drugs, doctors might recommend close follow-up with blood tests or other exams or tests to look for possible early signs of MDS.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Komrokji RS, Padron E, List AF. Chapter 111: Myelodysplastic syndromes. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015.

Steensma DP, Stone RM. Chapter 99: Myelodysplastic syndromes. In: Abeloff MD, Armitage JO, Niederhuber JE. Kastan MB, McKenna WG, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier; 2014.

Last Revised: January 22, 2018

American Cancer Society Emails

Sign up to stay up-to-date with news, valuable information, and ways to get involved with the American Cancer Society.