Merck Manual

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Overview of Myeloproliferative Neoplasms

By

Jane Liesveld

, MD, James P. Wilmot Cancer Institute, University of Rochester Medical Center

Last full review/revision Jul 2022| Content last modified Sep 2022
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In myeloproliferative neoplasms (myelo = bone marrow; proliferative = rapid multiplication; and neoplasm = new abnormal growth, such as a precancer or cancer), the blood-producing cells Formation of Blood Cells Red blood cells, most white blood cells, and platelets are produced in the bone marrow, the soft fatty tissue inside bone cavities. Two types of white blood cells, T and B cells ( lymphocytes)... read more in the bone marrow (precursor cells, also called stem cells) develop and reproduce excessively or are crowded out by an overgrowth of fibrous tissue. Sometimes, blood-producing cells appear and reproduce in the spleen and liver. Myeloproliferative neoplasms are caused by genetic mutations. Typically the mutations are acquired and not inherited, although rarely there are families in which several members have these disorders.

The myeloproliferative neoplasms include

Each myeloproliferative neoplasm is identified according to its predominant bone marrow and blood characteristics. Each disorder has a somewhat typical set of examination findings, test results, and expected course; however, there may be some overlap of features among these disorders because they share the same genetic mutations.

The number of blood-producing cells in the bone marrow can also increase as a reaction to another underlying disorder. For example, lack of oxygen can cause the red blood cells to increase, a serious infection can cause the white blood cells to increase, and inflammation can cause the platelets to increase. In these cases, an increased number of cells in the bone marrow is not considered a myeloproliferative neoplasm but rather a benign reaction. Treating the underlying disorder restores the number of blood cells being produced to normal.

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