What is myelofibrosis? Symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention
Your approach to treatment will depend on how advanced your cancer is, your general health, any genetic mutations you have, and other factors.
“Myelofibrosis is very heterogeneous [diverse]“says Mesa. “Plans have to be quite individualized because not everyone is the same.”
For example, a small subset of people with myelofibrosis who are at low risk and minimally affected by the disease may be candidates for the simplest treatment of all: observation. This means that the doctor will carefully monitor the cancer, but the patient is not undergoing any active treatment.
Drugs for myelofibrosis
- Ruxolitinib (Jakafi)
- Fedratinib (Inrebic)
- Pacritinib (Vonjo)
Drugs for anemia
- Androgens (synthetic hormones)
- Immunomodulators, such as thalidomide or lenalidomide
- Interferon (specific proteins that help the body fight infections)
- A blood transfusion
Treatments for an enlarged spleen
- A JAK inhibitor
- Surgery to remove the spleen
Stem cell transplant for myelofibrosis
Because of these risks, Mesa says stem cell transplants are performed in less than 10% of patients with myelofibrosis.
“A stem cell transplant can, even under the best of circumstances, have a 10 to 15 percent chance of life-threatening complications,” says Mesa. “To put that into perspective, open-heart surgery only carries a 1% risk.”
Participating in a clinical trial may be an option for some people with myelofibrosis. These studies could allow you to receive therapy that is not yet available to the public.
Mesa says several drugs being studied in clinical trials may benefit people with myelofibrosis.
“Have hope. There are a lot of new drugs in development, a lot of things being discovered, and a lot of people supporting you even if it’s a rare cancer,” he says.