MDS Diagnosis: Right from the Start

Because myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) covers several different blood disorders, getting an accurate diagnosis is essential. As part of our second-opinion service, we will always perform an extensive pathology review. About 10 percent of the cases we see are changed to some degree as a result of those reviews.

Roswell Park maintains, on site, a Clinical Cytogenetics Laboratory, a Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, and a Flow Cytometry Laboratory, which help us determine the unique features of a patient’s MDS so we can pinpoint the best treatment options. All of these facilities operate with state-of-the-art technology to provide a complete diagnostic workup.

Fast, Accurate Results

Our team of in-house pathologists performs the testing right here at Roswell Park to ensure fast, accurate results. Our physicians communicate directly with diagnostic staff in our testing laboratories to confirm results. Our specialized laboratories can also provide information about unusual genetic or molecular markers of your disease, which may be important for determining not only your prognosis but also your eligibility for available clinical trials.

Standard diagnostic tests for MDS at Roswell Park include:

  • Blood tests: The lab does a complete blood count to check the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. We also look for levels of proteins, minerals, and vitamins in the blood, including erythropoietin, iron, B12, folate, and copper. Having too few of these molecules can be a sign of a medical problem other than MDS.
  • Biopsy: A bone marrow biopsy is the only way to confirm that abnormal cells are present in the bone marrow, determine how many there are, and see their appearance. There are two ways your doctor can obtain bone marrow. Some people will have both procedures during the same visit:
    • Bone marrow aspiration: The doctor uses a hollow needle to remove samples of bone marrow.
    • Bone marrow biopsy: The doctor uses a hollow needle to remove a small piece of bone and bone marrow.
  • Cytogenic analysis: The pathologist examines the actual chromosomes of the cancer cell.

Roswell Park’s Flow and Image Cytometry Facility — recognized as one of the nation’s first and finest — analyzes blood and bone marrow cell samples for the Institute’s clinicians and researchers, leading health centers, and many National Institutes of Health clinical studies. This unique facility specializes in MDS, leukemias and lymphomas, identifying specific cancer types and subtypes.

Roswell Park continues to add advanced technology procedures to its arsenal of tools for fast, early and accurate MDS and leukemia detection and diagnosis. We are the only provider in the Western New York region that offers a full in-house cytogenetic pathology service and fast-tracking diagnosis to avoid delay in starting treatment.