Understanding MPNs

An Overview of MPNs

Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) are a closely related group of progressive blood cancers in which the bone marrow typically overproduces one of the mature blood elements. Other shared features include tendencies toward blood clotting/bleeding, organ enlargement, bone marrow scarring (fibrosis) and a possibility of transformation. Although MPNs can strike anyone at any age, most patients are afflicted in the sixth decade of life or later.

Stem cell transplants may offer a cure for some myelofibrosis sufferers. But there are no known cures for most MPNs. However, patients can experience few or no symptoms for extended periods of time and many people who suffer from MPNs can enjoy longevity with proper monitoring and treatment. The identification of the JAK2 gene marker in 2005 and the CALR gene marker in 2013 have led to significant advances in the diagnosis, understanding of disease processes and treatment of MPNs.

At the MPN Research Foundation, we’re committed to funding researchers in their quest to treat and ultimately cure MPNs. But even more importantly, we’re committed to providing patients, their families and the entire MPN community with advocacy, education and resources. Working together, we can change the prognosis and create a brighter future for people whose lives are affected by this group of diseases.

Types of MPNs

There are three blood cancer types that are categorized as “classic” MPNs: Primary Myelofibrosis (MF), Essential Thrombocythemia (ET) and Polycythemia Vera (PV):

  • Primary Myelofibrosis (MF) – Most commonly seen in men and women over the age of 60, MF is a chronic blood cancer in which the bone marrow function is impacted by scarring. Patients often have associated symptoms and an enlarged spleen. MF can occur in patients with no prior history of an MPN (primary MF) or as a progression of PV or ET.
  • Essential Thrombocythemia (ET)  – ET is a blood malignancy that is typically characterized by an elevation of platelets in the blood. It is most prevalent in women over the age of 50 and common symptoms include blood clotting and bleeding. ET patients have a later risk of progression to MF.
  • Polycythemia Vera (PV)  – Characterized by an elevation of red blood cells, PV is most commonly diagnosed in men over the age of 60. PV patients often exhibit elevated white blood cell and platelet counts as well as an enlarged spleen.

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