Myeloproliferative Neoplasms

  • Meir Wetzler, MD, FACP, Chief, Leukemia Section, Department of Medicine

What Are Myeloproliferative Neoplasms?

Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) occur when the body produces too many of a specific type of blood cell. There are several types of MPNs, identified by the types of blood cells that are affected. The four main types include:

  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML): An abnormal chromosome called the Philadelphia chromosome causes the body to produce too many granulocytes, a type of white blood cell. The granulocytes are normal, but they grow uncontrollably and can accumulate in the spleen, causing it to become enlarged. The enlarged spleen can become painful.
  • Essential thrombocythemia: The bone marrow produces too many platelets.
  • Myelofibrosis: Abnormal cells that are responsible for producing platelets cause scarring in the tissue in the bone marrow, so it can no longer produce enough blood cells.
  • Polycythemia vera: The bone marrow produces too many red blood cells.

Roswell Park's Experts in MPNs

Although MPNs are relatively rare, affecting fewer than three in 100,000 people, the MPN experts on the Leukemia Team at Roswell Park have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating these conditions and managing their side effects.

Meir Wetzler, MD, Chief of the Leukemia Service at Roswell Park, plays a national role in setting the standard of care for CML as a member of the CML Panel of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). Guidelines published by the NCCN prescribe the best ways of preventing, detecting and treating specific types of cancer, and are the most widely used standards in the United States.

Top 6 Percent Nationally for Blood or Marrow Transplantation

If you have myelofibrosis, CML, or another MPN for which a blood or marrow transplant (BMT) might be recommended, you’ll be in good hands with continued care at Roswell Park. We rank in the top 6 percent nationally in patient outcomes for allogeneic BMT (involving marrow or stem cells from a donor) among BMT centers that perform allogeneic transplants. BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York has named Roswell Park a Blue Distinction Center for Transplants® — one of only 83 in the nation with this designation for BMT.

Access to Clinical Research Studies

In addition to standard therapies, eligible patients have access to clinical research studies (clinical trials) of the very latest treatments.

Patients who enroll on clinical studies are often among the first to benefit from the latest treatments. For example, Roswell Park patients with CML took part in clinical studies of Gleevec®, which targets the abnormal Philadelphia chromosome, before the drug was FDA-approved and widely available.

Some clinical studies at Roswell Park involve emerging drugs that target JAK2, a genetic mutation associated with myelofibrosis and other MPNs. These JAK2 inhibitors often improve patients’ quality of life by reducing the side effects of the disease, such as enlarged spleen, poor appetite, fatigue, night sweats, itching, and pain in the bone, muscle, and abdomen.

Support Services When You Need Them

We also provide a full menu of support services to address both the medical and non-medical issues that may arise as a result of your illness. Dietitians, physical and occupational therapists, social workers, a psychologist and other members of your team will identify and address your needs.

When you come to Roswell Park, you’ll have all these services available in one location, ensuring that you’ll receive highly specialized care from diagnosis through follow-up.

Your First Steps

MPNs are treated by Roswell Park’s Leukemia Team. Learn more about how we can help you and how to become a patient.