Understanding Why Myeloproliferative Neoplasms Develop

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Why do myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) develop in the first place? Could I have prevented it? Mayo clinic expert Dr. Ruben Mesa provides insight on what factors may play a role in introducing MPN to the body.

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There are for some individuals, again a small minority, a familial link.  So in most people, there is not a family predisposition like they might have for breast or ovarian cancer, but that is somewhat of an exception. 

So why do people develop this?  Well, fundamentally there has been tremendous progress over the past several years regarding our understanding of these diseases, yet our understanding is still partial.  We understand several key things.  One, we know the bone marrow is making too many cells.  Two, we know these cells are related to one another, and they all started with, let's say, one cell in your bone marrow that likely something went wrong with.  That's truly why we call them neoplasms.  These cells in the bone marrow are related.  They're all the, you know, sons and daughters of the initial cell that something went wrong with. 

Now, what we have learned, particularly since 2005 with the initial discovery of the JAK2 mutation, is that there are a variety of changes in how the body controls the creation of cells, that fundamentally that is what is going wrong.  

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of MD Anderson Cancer Center, its medical staff or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on April 29, 2014