What is myelofibrosis and what are the main symptoms?
Myelofibrosis is a disease of the bone marrow, which results in the replacement of marrow with particular connective tissue fibers, thus preventing the ability of generating new blood cells. This leads to the scarring in the bone marrow and anemia, and the symptoms that will probably follow are weakness and tiredness, though it is also possible that the blood will collect outside the bone marrow, for example in spleen or liver, which may cause the enlargement of these organs. This is a progressive disease, but it develops slowly, which means that the early stage does not necessarily have to be indicated by any symptoms.
However, sooner or later, the patient suffering from myelofibrosis will begin to experience pain under the ribs, pale skin, excessive sweating, fever, pain in bones, and easy bruising and bleeding. The patient will also be more prone to infections, and it is highly advised that even the mildest symptoms are reported to the doctor, if nothing else, then in order to exclude this serious disease as a possibility.
Some cases will require only further monitoring, while some will have to be treated, though it happens only in cases of serious complications or in cases when the symptoms that appear require it.
Regarding the treatment, available options will include blood transfusions, therapy with the male hormone androgen in combination with certain other medications, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and even surgical removal of the spleen. In some cases, when there is a suitable donor of stem cells, the transplantation can be done, though this is a rather risky procedure.
What are the causes of myelofibrosis?
When it comes to the causes of myelofibrosis, the genetic mutation of the material in the stem cell is considered to be the trigger of this condition. However, the exact cause of that genetic mutation is very frequently unknown. Sometimes a kind of a genetic disaese may be the cause of myelofibrosis, while sometimes it can be some kind of an autoimmune condition such as diabetes or hypothyroidisim, for example. On the other side, in some cases physical trauma, toxic drugs, heavy metals, exposure to chemotherapy and radiation, malignant diseases, or deficiency in vitamins B, A, or E, may lead to this condition as well.
People who are a bit more prone to myelofibrosis are those who are older than 50, or those in cases of which this condition tends to run in the family. Certain complications related to this condition are possible, and they include the increase in the blood pressure, pain in the left shoulder, bleeding complications, infections and gout. One of the most serious complications is the development of acute myelogenous leukemia, which is also a progressive and very serious cancer of the bone marrow.