MPN Dictionary

Definition of Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Terms

MPN dictionary of cancer terms


Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)

The white blood cells called granulocytes or monocytes become cancerous.  The cells made are not fully formed so they do not work normally.  This is a fast growing cancer.


The scientific study of the factors which cause a disease, e.g. environmental factors such as infections and radiation.

Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant 

A transplant using stem cells collected from a ‘matched’ healthy donor, usually a brother or sister.


A condition in which the number of red blood cells is low.  Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, and so your hemoglobin will also be low.  Hemoglobin carries oxygen around the body.  So if you are anemic, you may feel tired or breathless.


Blood proteins produced, by white blood cells known as lymphocytes, when the body recognizes that something foreign has got in, for example bacteria.  The antibodies attach themselves to the invading bacteria or viruses, which are then destroyed. Each antibody will bind to a specific target antigen.


A medicine that reduces blood clotting.  Also called blood thinner.


Is the process of programmed cell death (PCD) that may occur in multi-cellular organisms.  Biochemical events lead to characteristic cell changes (morphology) and death.

B lymphocyte or B cell

A type of white blood cell lymphocyte that circulates in the blood and is normally involved in producing antibodies to fight infection.


An abnormal gene that is formed when parts of chromosomes 9 and 22 break off and switch with each other.  This gene is found on the Philadelphia chromosome and is the key feature of chronic myeloid leukemia.


A benign tumor is any tumor which does not behave like a cancer.  It is important to understand that a benign tumor is not necessarily harmless.  A benign brain tumor may be dangerous if it cannot be removed.


A small sample of fresh tissue, for example lymph node or bone marrow, which is taken for testing in a laboratory to establish or confirm an exact diagnosis of disease.

Blasts Cells

Are new immature blood cells of any type. Some blasts stay in the bone marrow to mature. Some travel through the blood system to other parts of the body before they mature. Even leukemic white cells mature to some extent. So it is possible to have leukemic blasts – in other words very young leukemic white blood cells.

Blood Cells

There are three main types of cells in the blood stream:
• Red cells which carry oxygen around the body.
• White cells – which fight infections.
• Platelets – which help prevent bleeding.
The correct balance between each cell type must be maintained.

Blood Clot

A thickened mass of blood.  Also called a thrombosis.

Blood Smear

A test that involves viewing a drop of blood with a microscope to assess features of blood cells.

Blood Stem Cell

A blood-forming cell from which all other types of blood cells are formed.  Also called hematopoietic stem cell.

Bone Marrow

The tissue which produces the blood cells. It is found in the hollow cavities of many of the bones of the body.  Bone marrow contains the stem cells from which red and white blood cells and platelets all blood cells develop.  Examination of the bone marrow is an important part of the diagnosis of leukemia and the monitoring of treatment.

Bone Marrow Aspiration

A small amount of bone marrow taken under local or general anesthetic from either the hip bone (pelvis) or breast bone (sternum).  The cells in the sample are then examined under the microscope to identify any abnormality in the developing blood cells.

Bone Marrow Biopsy

The removal of a small amount of solid bone and bone marrow to test for disease.


Diseases caused by cells growing and dividing in an uncontrolled way, often called malignant disease.


The number and type of cells in a given tissue.


Treatment using anti-cancer drugs. A single drug or a combination of drugs may be used to kill cells or stop them growing and dividing. Although aimed at the cancer cells, chemotherapy also affects rapidly dividing normal cells such as in the hair and gut. This can cause hair loss and nausea, but this is usually temporary and reversible.


Long strands that contain bundles of coded instructions in cells for making and controlling cells.

Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML)

A cancer of blood-forming cells that causes too many white blood cells called granulocytes to form.

Clinical Trial

Research on a test or treatment to assess its safety or how well it works.

Coagulation Test

A test of the proteins that cause blood to clot.

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

A test of the number of blood cells in a sample.

Complete Remission

No signs of cancer are present after treatment,

Comprehensive Metabolic Panel

Is a blood test that measures your sugar (glucose) level, electrolyte and fluid balance, kidney function, and liver function.

Computed Tomography (CT)

A test that uses x-rays from many angles to make a picture of the inside of the body.

Cytogenetic Testing

A test that uses a microscope to examine a cell’s chromosomes.

Cytoreductive Treatment

Anti-cancer drugs which act by killing or preventing the division of cells.

Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA)

It provides the essential building blocks for storing genetic material.  There are four different building blocks of DNA (bases) arranged in coded sequence as genes which determine an individual’s inherited characteristics.


To identify a disease.


Measurement of the different types of white blood cells present in a blood sample.


A health condition that turns skin red and may cause painful, burning sensations.

Erythropoiesis-Stimulating Agent (ESA)

A drug that helps bone marrow to make more red blood cells.

Erythropoietin (EPO)

A substance that helps bone marrow to make more red blood cells.

Essential Thrombocythemia (ET)

Is a blood cancer (MPN) that occurs when the body makes too many platelets, the part of the blood needed for clotting.


Severe tiredness despite getting enough sleep that limits one’s ability to function.


Is the formation of excess fibrous connective tissue in an organ or tissue in a reparative or reactive process.  In myelofibrosis, we see scaring of the bone marrow.

Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (FISH)

A lab test that uses special dyes to look for abnormal changes in a cell’s genes and chromosomes.


A set coded instructions in cells for making and controlling cells.

Graft-Versus-Host Disease (GVHD)

An attack on normal cells by transplanted blood stem cells from a donor.

Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor

A substance that helps (stimulates) the bone marrow to make more white blood cells called neutrophils.  It is made naturally in the body but can also be made in a lab.


The percentage of red blood cells to total blood.

Hematopoietic Stem Cell

A blood-forming cell from which all other types of blood cells are made.  Also called blood stem cell.


A protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen.

High-Intensity Chemotherapy

Treatment with high doses of strong cancer drugs that are more likely to cause severe side effects.

Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA)

Special proteins on the surface of cells that help the body to tell its own cells apart from foreign cells.

Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) Type

The unique set of proteins on the surface of cells that help the body to tell its own cells apart from foreign cells.

Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) Typing

A blood test that finds a person’s HLA type—the unique set of proteins on the surface of cells that help the body to tell its own cells apart from foreign cells.

Imaging Test

A test that makes pictures of the insides of your body.

Immune System

Your body’s natural defense against infection and disease.


A chemical agent that modifies the immune response or the functioning of the immune system.


Is a type of cancer treatment that boosts the body’s natural defenses to fight cancer.  It uses substances made by the body or in a laboratory to improve or restore immune system function. 


Interferons are proteins that are part of your natural defenses.  They tell your immune system that germs or cancer cells are in your body. They trigger killer immune cells to fight those invaders.  Interferons got their name because they “interfere” with viruses and keep them from multiplying.


A mineral needed to make new red blood cells.

Iron Chelation Therapy

Treatment that is used to remove excess iron from your body.

Iron Overload

The buildup of excess iron in your body.


A test that uses a microscope to examine a cell’s chromosomes.

Lacatate Dehydrogenase (LDH)

A protein that helps to make energy in cells.

Liver Function Tests

Tests that measure chemicals made or processed by the liver.

Medical History

All health events and medications taken to date.


A bone marrow cell that makes platelets.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

A test that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to make pictures of the insides of the body.


An abnormal change in the instructions within cells for making and controlling cells.

Myelodysplastic neoplasm (MDS)

A cancer of blood-forming cells that causes too few blood cells to form.

Myelofibrosis (MF)

Is a blood cancer (MPN) that develops when the bone marrow makes too many blood cells.  Scar tissue forms inside the bone marrow.

Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPNs)

Are blood cancers that occur when the body makes too many white or red blood cells, or platelets.  This overproduction of blood cells in the bone marrow can create problems for blood flow and lead to various symptoms.

No Response

Test results show no meaningful change in cancer status after treatment.


A period of testing for changes in cancer status.

Partial Response

Test results still show signs of cancer but also improvement after treatment.


A doctor who’s an expert in testing cells and tissues to find disease.


A procedure in which a needle is used to take blood from a vein.  Phlebotomy may also be done to remove extra red blood cells from the blood, to treat certain blood disorders (PV, Hemochromatosis).

Physical Exam

A review of the body by a health expert for signs of disease.


A type of blood cell that helps control bleeding.  Also called thrombocyte.


A procedure that withdraws blood, removes platelets, and then returns your altered blood to your body.

Platelet Transfusion

A slow injection of platelets into a vein.

Polycythemia Vera (PV)

Is a blood cancer (MPN) that occurs when the body makes too many red blood cells.  Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen through the body.  Too many can cause the blood to become thicker and move more slowly.


The pattern and outcome of a disease.

Post-ET Myelofibrosis

Advanced essential thrombocythemia with scarring in the bone marrow.

Post-PV Myelofibrosis

Advanced polycythemia vera with scarring in the bone marrow.

Primary Myelofibrosis (PMF)

Scanning of the bone marrow not due to other bone marrow problems.


The course of a disease as it grows, gets worse, or spreads in the body.

Red Blood Cell

A type of blood cell that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.

Red Blood Cell Transfusion

A slow injection of red blood cells into a vein.


The return or worsening of cancer after a period of improvement.

Side Effect

An unhealthy or unpleasant physical or emotional condition caused by treatment.


A small organ to the left of your stomach that is part of the immune system.

Supportive Care

Treatment for the symptoms or health condition caused by cancer or cancer treatment.

White Blood Cell

A type of blood cell that helps fight infections in the body.



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