Blood Cancer Awareness Post 16: Myelofibrosis

OK, so…as mentioned earlier I had a terrible migraine today (Sunday 9/15) so this article may not be as good as I’d like. I do apologize in advance if this is a little scattered, or poorly worded. Also, please leave comments if you have anything you’d like me to add!

What is MF?

So we have covered MPNs as a whole, PV and ET, now we will talk about Myelofibrosis.

Myelofibosis

Myelo-From the Greek Muelos which means marrow

Fibrosis-Which means scarring, or thickening

To sum that up: A scarring of the bone marrow.­­

MF can be either primary or secondary. Primary MF occurs on its own, and secondary as a progression of either PV or ET. The scarring of the bone marrow which occurs during MF inhibits normal blood cell production, leading to dramatically lower than normal blood counts.

As I said in the issues before, each of these MPNs can be very difficult to diagnose, as the symptoms can be difficult to pinpoint, and often lend themselves easily to a variety of diseases. I think I will go through and answer the same some of the same questions as in the first entry, applying them to MF.

How are you diagnosed with that disease/condition/thing?

How do they treat it?

When will it be cured?

As with most MPNs, MF can often be discovered after some other event/illness/diagnosis.  Most commonly diagnosis happens after a series of blood tests; but as each case presents differently, the doctor will take each patient’s individual medical history and physical exam into account during diagnosis. A bone marrow biopsy is the definitive diagnostic method. Common symptoms are bone pain, itching, bleeding, bruising, enlarged spleen (also seen in other MPNs), night sweats, and of course, fatigue (seen in pretty much all MPNs).

Treatment for MF varies by patient. Treatment ranges from watch and wait, to drug therapies such as Jakafi, and on to stem cell transplants. (we will get more deeply  into treatments of all of the MPNs later this month.

As for a cure, this is the same as with any MPN. There isn’t a widely accepted “cure”; however a stem cell transplant is close. Unfortunately this is extremely  risky, and not recommended for all patients.

I do not claim to know all there is to know about ANY myeloproliferative neoplasm for that matter…. I am sure that I missed something here, but this is just my general understanding, and the way I would explain it to someone who knew nothing about MF. I would like to take this opportunity to invite MF patients to add to this. Particularly things like “What do you wish you had known at diagnosis that no one told you?”

Tomorrow we’ll be talking about Blood Cancer Resources.

Until tomorrow,

Lina

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