It's World Cancer Day

There has been, from time to time, a question about whether myeloproliferative neoplasms are cancers. Let’s be clear, they are. But don’t take our word for it.

Cancer Support Community defines Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPNs) as types of blood cancers that overproduce blood cells in the bone marrow, due to genetic mutations that originate in the stem cells. This genetic mutation leads to the overproduction of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets in the bone marrow.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reclassified MPDs to “Myeloproliferative Neoplasms” to reflect the consensus that these diseases are blood cancers (neoplasms) in 2008. MPNs were previously identified as “Myeloproliferative Disorder” or “Myeloproliferative Disease” (MPDs).

Though myeloproliferative neoplasms are serious, and may pose certain health risks, people with these conditions often live for many years after diagnosis. The prognosis largely depends on the type of MPN.

The Leukaemia Foundation in Australia offers this definition: Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) are a group of diseases that affect blood-cell formation. In all forms of MPN, a bone marrow problem leads to increased levels of blood cells circulating in the bloodstream.

  • “Myelo” refers to bone marrow, which is the body’s blood-cell factory.
  • “Proliferative” refers to the rapid growth and production of cells.
  • “Myeloproliferative” means increased growth and production of bone marrow and blood cells.
  • “Neoplasm” means an abnormal growth of cells. A neoplasm can be either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). In MPN, the neoplasm starts out benign; over time it may turn into malignant disease (cancerous). 

From our website:

The myeloproliferative neoplasms are progressive blood cancers that can strike anyone at any age, and for which there is no known cure. A gene marker, JAK2, was discovered in 2005. It is present in most PV patients and 50% of ET and PMF patients. A second gene marker,Calreticulin or CALR, was discovered in 2013. It is present in 23.5% of people with MF and ET.

Author: Crowley, William

Bill Crowley has worked with blood cancer patients, family and friends for over 15 years. As the Director of Development, he helps supporters appreciate how their gifts impact MPN research.

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