'GMA's' Robin Roberts has Myelodysplastic Syndrome, will undergo bone marrow transplant
MDS is malignant, but can affect all the blood cells in the body. Problems that occur with red blood cells can include anemia and low blood counts, while problems that occur with white blood cells can include increased number and severity of infections, since white blood cells are part of the body's immune system.
In addition to abnormal blood components, MDS can cause immature cells called "blasts." These cells can lead to leukemia, which is why MDS used to be referred to as "pre-leukemia" - a progression from MDS to leukemia is not uncommon, though it is not always a foregone conclusion.
The primary treatment for MDS is a bone marrow transplant, which means taking healthy marrow from a donor and replacing and repairing the abnormal bone marrow in an MDS patient. For Robin, she is fortunate to have a sister who is an excellent bone marrow match. Robin's treatment begins Monday in the form of a drug that will prepare her body for the transplant.
Robin writes on the "GMA" website:
Today, I want to let you know that I've been diagnosed with MDS or myelodysplastic syndrome. It's a disease of the blood and bone marrow and was once known as preleukemia.
My doctors tell me I'm going to beat this -- and I know it's true.
If you Google MDS, you may find some scary stuff, including statistics that my doctors insist don't apply to me. They say I'm younger and fitter than most people who confront this disease and will be cured.
The doctors expect Robin to make a full recovery after the transplant because she is young and healthy.