Balanced iron levels are critical to oxygen delivery, respiration and other metabolic processes. With Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), an iron overload can be a significant problem. Iron-induced tissue and cell damage and iron buildup in organs can be toxic to an MDS patient. Anemia is one of the most common symptoms of MDS. Thus, finding ways to avoid iron buildup can drastically improve quality of life.
Common Therapies For Iron Overload
Red Blood Cell Transfusion
These can be “a life-saving treatment for patients with chronic anemia, in particular for those who do not respond or have a poor response to available treatments.” The frequency of the transfusions depends on the red blood cell and platelet counts. Some patients require them every few weeks, others can go months.
Iron Chelation Therapy
This therapy is recommended for MDS patients to manage iron levels. It is also an effective treatment for patients that require long-term blood cell transfusions.
“The main purpose of chelation therapy is the entire elimination and prevention of iron overload. Chelation can clear away the surplus iron load and keep iron at natural levels. Iron chelators enter cells, bind free iron, and remove it from the body.” Guidelines recommend chelation therapy for low to intermediate risk MDS patients.
- Deferasirox is a once-daily orally administered iron chelator.
- When deferasirox is ineffective, deferoxamine may be used.
- Both of these medications should be used with caution if the MDS patient has liver disease.
- Bone marrow transplant
Diet and Alcohol
- Keep a healthy, balanced diet.
- Avoid breakfast cereals with “added iron”.
- Avoid vitamin C and iron supplements.
- Do not eat raw oysters or clams.
- Avoid alcohol.
There is no cure for iron overload (hemochromatosis), but it can be managed effectively and provide a regular life expectancy. Talk to your doctor about the most effective way for you treat your iron overload.
about the author
Lisa Foster is a mom of 3 daughters, a puzzle lover, writer and HealthTree advocate. She believes in the mission of the foundation and the team that builds it forward. She calls Houston, Texas home.