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Azra Raza, MD, discusses that up to 85% of patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) will also experience anemia. These patients will present with low hemoglobin levels and, depending on their subtype of MDS, up to one-half will require transfusions.
The possibility of iron overload becomes a concern when these patients require multiple transfusions, exceeding a total 20 units of red blood cells, and their serum ferritin is >1000 ng/ml. Raza states that in her practice, at least one-third of the patients with lower-risk MDS who are receiving chronic transfusions will be at risk of iron overload.