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Myelofibrosis

A disease of the bone marrow where fibrous tissue, known as reticulin, replaces normal healthy bone marrow cells, such as white blood cells, red blood cells, or platelets. If the bone marrow cannot make enough red blood cells, the spleen or liver may make red blood cells which causes the spleen or liver to get bigger. An enlarged spleen or liver can cause abdominal discomfort and may push on the stomach making it difficult to eat an entire meal. Patients with myelofibrosis can also have excessive, or too much growth of certain cells such as white blood cells, red blood cells, or platelets. Myelofibrosis may increase the risk of a blood clot, bleeding, or infection, or cause “constitutional symptoms” such as fatigue, fever, weight loss, or night sweats.

Myelofibrosis is a rare condition. There are no known causes of myelofibrosis, however it can result when patients with other bone marrow disorders, such as polycythemia vera or essential thrombocythemia, get worse. Very rarely, these as well as other types of cancer can cause fibrosis of the marrow. This is known as “secondary myelofibrosis.” The stage of myelofibrosis can vary at diagnosis and throughout treatment. Prognostic scoring systems for myelofibrosis take into account the degree of fibrous tissue (reticulin) in the marrow, age, white blood cell count, hemoglobin, platelet count, presence of “blast cells” in the blood, and symptoms. The effectiveness of the treatment may depend upon the prognostic score.

NOTE: Treatment Options listed below are not all-inclusive. Other treatments may be available. ChemoExperts provides drug information and does not recommend any one treatment over another. Only your Doctor can choose which therapy is appropriate for you.

Notice to user: The term chemotherapy, later shortened to “chemo”, originated in the early 1900s from Nobel Prize winning German physician and chemist, Dr. Paul Erlich. Dr. Erlich defined chemotherapy to mean “the use of chemicals as a therapy to treat disease.” (Source). Many years later, the term became synonymous with the use of chemicals to treat cancer specifically. Because early cancer therapies became quickly known for their severe side effect profile, the term chemotherapy took on a negative connotation. If we fast forward several decades, the anti-cancer therapies used today have become refined, and for many diseases, treatment can be safely taken in the comfort of your own home.

As chemotherapy has become particularly targeted, certain side effects have lessened, while new side effects have emerged. However, the premise behind therapy, that is using a chemical to kill cancer, has not changed. Therefore, the clinicians who created ChemoExperts.com believe the term “chemotherapy” still very much applies to all anti-cancer medications, but importantly, can no longer suggest what, if any, side effects a patient is likely to experience. For this to become clear, education regarding each individual drug, as well as information derived from the use of combination therapy (multiple chemo medications) is required. As a result, we have structured our website to make it easier for users to learn about cancer treatment and hope that if you are taking or receiving chemotherapy, that ChemoExperts.com is able to provide you with the tools needed to make the journey a little easier and life more rewarding.

Treatment Options

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Created: September 15, 2016 Updated: April 26, 2017

References

Gangat N, Caramazza D, Vaidya R, et al. DIPSS plus: a refined Dynamic International Prognostic Scoring System for primary myelofibrosis that incorporates prognostic information from karyotype, platelet count, and transfusion status. J Clin Oncol. 2011;29:392-397.