Also called Idiopathic Myelofibrosis, Myeloid Metaplasia, Agnogenic Myeloid Metaplasia, Primary Myelofibrosis, Secondary Myelofibrosis
Successfully Curing Myelofibrosis
At Bone Marrow Transplant Mexico we perform life changing, and life-saving, bone marrow transplants to cure blood and bone marrow diseases like Myelofibrosis. Being diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening disease is a difficult and traumatic time, and one where the decisions that you make really are decisions of life and death. We offer a free consultation where you can find out if a bone marrow transplant could be the right course of treatment for you or a loved one.
Myelofibrosis is a condition where healthy bone marrow is replaced by scar tissue, which affects the production of red and white blood cells and platelets. There is no known cause of myelofibrosis, although patients who have undergone treatment for leukemia can develop secondary myelofibrosis. Most patients are over 50 years of age, with the average age of diagnosis being 65. Whilst men and women develop the disease with equal frequency, in children it is twice as common in girls as boys.
Myelofibrosis can be associated with other conditions and their treatment, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, Lymphoma, AML, ALL and Multiple Myeloma. It is a progressive disease with a life expectancy of around 5 years after diagnosis.
In a patient with myelofibrosis, blood forming stem cells grow uncontrollably and produce immature blood cells and scar tissue. This tissue builds up, gathering mainly in the bone marrow. As a result there is less space for healthy bone marrow so the bone marrow goes on to produce poor quality blood. To compensate for the poor blood production from the bone marrow, blood cells are created elsewhere in the body (known as extramedullary hematopoiesis), particularly in the spleen and liver. This causes enlargement of both organs. The production of blood cells outside of the bone marrow is not effective so the patient will become anemic.
It is possible for these stem cells to spread throughout the body, creating tumors that produce more immature blood cells and fibrous scar tissue on other organs.
Usually the symptoms will appear gradually over a considerable period of time. Around 25% of sufferers have asymptomatic myelofibrosis, where they don’t experience any symptoms at all. In these cases, the disease is usually picked up at a physical examination where their enlarged spleen is noticed by their doctor. Otherwise, symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Feeling full quickly (due to the enlarged spleen)
- Easy bruising or bleeding (due to the low platelet count)
- Fatigue and shortness of breath (due to low red blood cell count)
- More susceptible to colds and infections (due to low white blood cell count)
- Bone pain
Treatment and Diagnosis
Because the symptoms of myelofibrosis are similar to other diseases, most notably leukemia, it can be difficult to diagnose. A doctor will normally check for an enlarged spleen and liver, supported by a complete blood count examination and bone marrow biopsy.
If someone has asymptomatic myelofibrosis, it is possible that little or no treatment will be needed, other than monitoring the disease and its progression. Other treatments include radiation and chemotherapy to destroy the malfunctioning cells, or hormone treatment to address the anemia, although in women this can cause male traits such as facial and body hair growth. Blood transfusions can also be used to stabilize the blood cell count, however, because blood cells do not live for very long (120 days for red cells and just one day for white blood cells), this is not an effective long term solution.
In some cases, bone marrow transplant is appropriate, depending on the age and general health of the patient. At this time, bone marrow transplant is the only treatment for myelofibrosis that presents any possible cure; any other treatments are palliative.
Primary Myelofibrosis and BMT
If you or someone that you love has been diagnosed with myelofibrosis, speak to your doctor about whether or not bone marrow transplant may be suitable. Historically it has only been undertaken on younger, fitter patients, because of the rigorous chemotherapy needed to destroy all existing bone marrow cells. However, reduced intensity treatment (which involves much lower doses of chemotherapy prior to the transplant) is available for more vulnerable patients. This is known as a mini transplant.
If you have a progressive version of the disease, it may be that you want to make the decision as quickly as possible, before it further affects your health. It is important that you let your doctor know as soon as possible that you are considering bone marrow transplant, even if you haven’t yet made your decision. This will affect the treatment that you receive before you make your decision.
Receiving lots of blood transfusions prior to a bone marrow or stem cell transplant will make your body more likely to reject the transplanted stem cells, as it will develop antibodies to fight the transfused blood. If you have expressed an interest in bone marrow transplants, blood transfusions will be limited and you will be given irradiated blood that has been treated to remove cells that will fight with your existing cells and make antibodies that could fight transplanted cells.
Making a Decision
We know that this is a difficult time for you and have created a process that will make this process as easy as possible for you and your physician. Either you or your physician can contact The Angeles health branch in America, who will then contact the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit with your details. Once your case has been reviewed, we will liaise with your doctor and will coordinate all of the arrangements needed for your treatment.
If you would like a free consultation with a medical professional please don’t hesitate to contact us by filling out an inquiry form.