Myeloproliferative Disorders

Myeloproliferative disorders, also known as myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), are a group of cancers that develop from abnormal cells in the bone marrow. These diseases occur when the bone marrow produces too many abnormal platelets, red blood cells, or white blood cells, and the dysfunctional cells can be released into the bloodstream. Myeloproliferative disorders include polycythemia vera, essential thrombocytosis, myelofibrosis, and chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Chronic myelogenous leukemia is distinguished from the other three disorders by the presence of a specific mutation known as the Philadelphia chromosome, which is a translocation of chromosomes 9 and 22. The other three disorders are often collectively referred to as Philadelphia-negative MPNs. Myeloproliferative disorders affect men twice as much as they do women, and are more commonly found in people over the age of 60 years.

Symptoms may vary based on the type of disease, though often a diagnosis predates symptoms. Myeloproliferative disorders may cause one or more of the following:

  • Abdominal pain (if spleen is enlarged)
  • Anemia or erythrocytosis
  • Thrombocytosis
  • Blood clots in veins or arteries
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Increased or unusual bruising
  • Unusual bleeding

The exact underlying cause or causes of myeloproliferative disorders are unknown. Treatment options for MDS may vary depending on the disease type and stage, and most often involves supportive care meant to manage symptoms and prevent further complications.

Treatment options for myeloproliferative disorders may also include one or more of the following:

  • Aspirin
  • Chemotherapy
  • Biologic therapy (interferon)
  • Stem cell transplant