What are Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs)
Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) are a group of blood cancers that affect the bone marrow and the blood cells it produces. They lead to the abnormal growth of one or more types of blood cells that the bone marrow produces, including white blood cells, red blood cells, or platelets. MPNs include conditions such as:
- Polycythemia vera (PV)
- Essential thrombocythemia (ET)
Risk factors for MPNs include:
- exposure to radiation
- exposure to certain chemicals such as benzene
- having a family history of the disease
- Tobacco use
- Exposure to pesticides and fertilizers
Symptoms of MPNs vary depending on the type of MPN, but common symptoms include:
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
- Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly)
- Bone pain
- Blood clots
- Bleeding or bruising easily
- Bone marrow transplant
The ultimate diagnosis of MPNs usually requires a combination of blood tests, bone marrow biopsy, and genetic testing. Blood tests can help to identify the type of MPN and the level of certain blood cells. A bone marrow biopsy can help to confirm the diagnosis of MPN and to stage the disease.
Genetic testing can help identify specific genetic mutations associated with MPNs.
Sometimes imaging tests such as CT, MRI, or ultrasound may be needed to evaluate the body’s organs, such as the spleen or liver.
Treatment for MPNs depends on the type of MPN and the stage of the disease. The goal of treatment is to control symptoms and to reduce the risk of complications such as blood clots and bleeding. Treatment options include:
- Medications to lower blood counts
- Medications to stimulate blood counts
- Phlebotomy (removing blood if there are too many red blood cells)
- Interferon treatment
- Splenectomy (surgical removal of the spleen)
- Targeted therapy (medication to target specific genetic mutations)
In summary, MPN is a group of blood cancer disorders that affect the bone marrow and the production of blood cells. Although there is no cure for MPN, treatments are available to manage symptoms and reduce the risk of developing more serious complications. It is important to work with a healthcare team experienced in managing MPN to develop the best treatment plan for you.