Understanding MPNs

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Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) are a closely related group of chronic blood cancers where the bone marrow becomes proliferative (overactive), causing the cells to function and develop abnormally.

Typically the body produces too many white or red blood cells, or platelets.  MPNs originate in the bone marrow.  This overproduction of blood cells in the bone marrow can create blood flow problems leading to numerous symptoms.  There is no cure for MPNs, except for a bone marrow transplant, a risky procedure.

Types of MPNs

The three “classic” MPNs or Philadelphia-negative MPNs are Polycythemia Vera (PV), Essential Thrombocythemia (ET) and Primary Myelofibrosis (MF).

Polycythemia Vera (PV) – is characterized by elevated red blood cell counts.

The extra red blood cells make your blood thicker than normal.  As a result, blood clots can form more easily.  These clots can block blood flow through your arteries and veins, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Thicker blood also doesn’t flow as quickly to your body as normal blood.  Slowed blood flow prevents your organs from getting enough oxygen, which can cause serious problems, such as angina and heart failure.  (Angina is chest pain or discomfort.)

Essential thrombocythemia (ET) –  is characterized by an increased number of platelets (thrombocythemia).

Platelets (thrombocytes) are blood cells involved in blood clotting.  While some people with this condition have no symptoms, others develop problems associated with the excess platelets.

Primary Myelofibrosis (MF or PMF) – is characterized by the buildup of scar tissue (fibrosis) in the bone marrow, the tissue that produces blood cells.

Because of the fibrosis, the bone marrow is unable to make enough normal blood cells.  The shortage of blood cells causes many of the signs and symptoms of primary myelofibrosis.

What is bone marrow?

Blood cells Formation, PV Reporter, lymphocytes , neutrophils , monocytes , eosinophils , basophils , thrombocytes

Bone marrow is the soft, spongy tissue inside your bones that makes blood forming cells.  Think of bone marrow as a factory that normally makes all of the cells in your blood.

  • Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body.
  • White blood cells fight infections.
  • Platelets control bleeding.


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