Difference Between Aplastic Anemia and Myelodysplastic Syndrome

Diseases which impact the blood and bone marrow are rare and serious. The bone marrow plays an essential role in the body to produce blood cells. Two common diseases which affect the bone marrow or the blood cells are Aplastic Anemia and Myelodysplastic Syndrome. Both the diseases seem similar but have distinct differences.

Aplastic Anemia vs Myelodysplastic Syndrome

The main difference between aplastic anemia and myelodysplastic syndrome is that Aplastic Anemia is a medical condition in which the body stops producing new blood cells while Myelodysplastic Syndrome is a group of disorders that is mainly caused by poorly formed or inefficient blood cells.

Aplastic Anemia vs Myelodysplastic Syndrome

Patients with Aplastic Anemia become prone to various types of infections and experience uncontrolled bleeding. The disease can be mild or severe and the symptoms may occur suddenly or slowly over time. It can be diagnosed by bone marrow biopsy.

While Patients with myelodysplastic syndrome do not recover completely but the medications and treatment procedures slow the disease and prevent further complications. It can be diagnosed by full blood count, examination of blood film, blood tests, bone marrow examination, cytogenetics, and flow cytometry.

Comparison Table Between Aplastic Anemia and Myelodysplastic Syndrome

Parameters of ComparisonAplastic AnemiaMyelodysplastic Syndrome
Causes Immune system attacking stem cells, radiation and chemotherapy treatments, drugs, toxic chemicals, autoimmune disorders, viral infections like cytomegalovirus, hepatitis, parvovirus B19, and various other factors History of exposure to chemotherapy or regular exposure to toxic and harmful chemicals
SymptomsExtreme fatigue, skin rashes, pale skin, bleeding nose, bleeding gums, shortness of breath, frequent infections, irregular heart rate or rapid heart rate, uncontrollable or prolonged bleeding, dizziness, fever and headache Extreme fatigue, frequent infections or leukopenia due to low white blood cells, paleness in the skin which is known as pallor and is due to low red blood cells, pinpoint-sized red spots which are formed due to bleeding, and easy bruising of the skin which is known as petechiae and is caused due to low blood platelet count
Diagnostic method Bone marrow biopsy Full blood count, examination of blood film, blood tests, bone marrow examination, cytogenetics, flow cytometry, copper deficiency, and virtual karyotyping
TreatmentChemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiotherapy or even stem cell transplant or bone marrow transplant Medications, supportive care, bone marrow transplant or stem cell transplantation
PreventionAvoiding exposure to toxic chemicals like organic solvents, insecticides, paint remover, herbicides Avoiding exposure to cancer-causing chemicals of industries, and avoiding exposure to various kinds of radiations

What is Aplastic Anemia?

Aplastic anemia is a medical condition in which the body stops producing new blood cells. It is a rare as well as a serious medical condition and can affect any age group of the population. The patients become prone to various types of infections and experience uncontrolled bleeding. The disease can be mild or severe and the symptoms may occur suddenly or slowly over time.

The stem cells in the bone marrow are damaged in aplastic anemia. This leads the bone marrow to be empty or contain just a few blood cells. The main cause of aplastic anemia is from the immune system which attacks the stem cells of the bone marrow. The stem cells of the bone marrow play of vital role in producing three major blood cells that are white cells, red cells, and blood platelets.

Most of the patients diagnosed with aplastic anemia have a 5-year survival rate. There are over 5 lakhs of death due to plastic amenia, and the report has been conducted by a survey in 2015. The symptoms of aplastic anemia are extreme fatigue, skin rashes, pale skin, bleeding nose, bleeding gums, shortness of breath, frequent infections, irregular heart rate or rapid heart rate, uncontrollable or prolonged bleeding, dizziness, fever, and headache.

The medical condition can be short-lived or can even become chronic. It has the potential to become severe and even fatal in some cases. Aplastic anemia can be treated through medications or blood transfusions. Some cases may even require a stem cell transplant which is also known as a bone marrow transplant.

What is Myelodysplastic Syndrome?

The myelodysplastic syndrome also known as MDS is a group of disorders that is mainly caused by poorly formed or inefficient blood cells. Patients with myelodysplastic syndrome do not recover completely but the medications and treatment procedures slow the disease and prevent further complications.

Disruption in responding material disruption in the spongy material which is present inside the bones hampers the formation of blood cells and is the main cause of the myelodysplastic syndrome. Some major causes are therapy treatments for cancer like radiation or chemotherapy or regular exposure to harmful and toxic chemicals.

The symptoms are extreme fatigue, frequent infections or leukopenia due to low white blood cells, paleness in the skin which is known as pallor and is due to low red blood cells, pinpoint-sized red spots which are formed due to bleeding, and easy bruising of the skin which is known as petechiae and is caused due to low blood platelet count.

The myelodysplastic syndrome has several subtypes which include single lineage dysplasia, multilineage dysplasia, isolated del (5q) abnormality of the chromosome, ring sideroblasts, myelodysplastic syndrome with excess blasts. People who are older than 60-65 are most vulnerable to myelodysplastic syndrome. The Disorder can cause other complications like anemia, uncontrollable bleeding, recurrent infections, or increased risk of cancer.

Main Differences Aplastic Anemia and Myelodysplastic Syndrome

  1. In aplastic Anemia, the body stops producing new blood cells while in Myelodysplastic Syndrome, the body produces poorly formed or inefficient blood cells.
  2. Aplastic Anemia affects mostly children and younger adults while people over 60 are most vulnerable to Myelodysplastic Syndrome.
  3. The survival rate of Aplastic Anemia is 5 years while the survival rate of Myelodysplastic Syndrome is 2.5 years.
  4. The bone marrow in the patients of Aplastic Anemia have hyperplastic pockets while the bone marrow in the patients with Myelodysplastic Syndrome does not have any hyperplastic pockets.
  5. Some cases of Aplastic anemia are hereditary while Myelodysplastic Syndrome cannot be inherited.

Conclusion

Both the diseases are similar as they affect the bone marrow of the body and directly affect the count of the blood cells. In aplastic anemia, the body stops producing new blood cells while in Myelodysplastic Syndrome, the body produces poorly formed or inefficient blood cells.

Both diseases have the potential to gain momentum and lead to serious complications. It can even be fatal at times. It is essential to get screened and diagnosed in the slightest occurrence of symptoms so that the disorder can be treated from the initial stage.

References

  1. https://ashpublications.org/blood/article-abstract/102/3/916/17341
  2. https://ashpublications.org/hematology/article-abstract/2011/1/84/96999
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