The term myeloproliferative disease refers to a group of disease that effect a person’s bone marrow. They are also known as MPD’s, myeloproliferative neoplasms, and MPN. The World Health Organization recently renamed this category of diseases to myeloproliferative neoplasms to more accurately reflect the underlying genetic changes that these diseases cause. A neoplasm is an abnormal growth of cells that forms a mass of tissue or a tumor.
Signs and Symptoms
Patients of myeloproliferative diseases can often experience non-specific symptoms such as fatigue and loss of appetite. They are often diagnosed only because they had blood work performed for something else that revealed there might be a problem. In some cases there is also a slight enlargement of the spleen.
The cause of myeloproliferative diseases usually originates in the bone marrow or lymphoid cells. There are four main types of myeloproliferative diseases:
- Chronic myelogeneous leukemia (CML)
- Polycythemia vera (PV)
- Essential thrombocytosis (ET)
- Myelofibrosis (MF)
Part of the distinction between these is the presence of what is called the Philadelphia chromosome. This is an abnormal chromosome that is present in 90% of chronic myelogeneous leukemia (CML) cases. This chromosome is not present in the other types of myeloproliferative diseases. The diagnosis depends on the type of cells that are mutating. Diagnostic tests can include red cell mass tests, bone marrow aspirate and checking levels of carboxyhaemoglibin.
Since there is currently no cure for myeloproliferative diseases, treatment plans strive to prevent complications and alleviate symptoms as a result of the disease. In some cases a regimen of low dose aspirin has proven helpful. Drugs such as Busulfan, Hydrea, Interferon-alpha, and Gleevac have varying results and side effects depending on the patient’s reaction. These medications can be helpful in dealing with the symptoms, but unfortunately will not cure the patient of the disease. A bone marrow transplant can often be the best way to treat the disease if the patient can find a suitable donor.
People who suffer from myeloproliferative diseases can expect to live a long life with proper treatment for their specific disease.