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Myelofibrosis often causes few or no symptoms in early stages, but as the disease progresses, patients may notice certain changes in how they feel. Take our quiz to find out if you should talk to a doctor about myelofibrosis.
Myelofibrosis is a rare form of blood cancer that causes scar tissue to build up in the bone marrow, which is the soft, fatty tissue inside most bones that produces blood cells, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. These critical blood cells are produced by hematopoietic (or blood-forming) stem cells, which can turn into variety of specialized cells. While no one is sure what causes MF, scientists believe that it may arise if a single blood-forming stem cell develops an abnormality, or mutation, in its DNA. As these abnormal cells divide and multiply, they crowd out healthy blood cells and scar tissue begins to form in the bone marrow.
Myelofibrosis belongs to a group of blood disorders known as myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). Myelofibrosis can develop on its own (known as primary myelofibrosis), but in 15 to 20 percent of cases this cancer occurs as a result of other MPNs. Myelofibrosis may progress slowly. Some people who are diagnosed with this condition can go years without experiencing any symptoms. In other patients, bone marrow may deteriorate over time and require treatment. In either case, myelofibrosis patients must be monitored frequently.
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