Where Do MPNs Come from and Can They Be Prevented?

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Are you born with a myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN)?  Could you have prevented the disease? Dr. Alison Moliterno from Johns Hopkins Medicine explains what doctors know about why MPNs occur, risks for contracting an MPN, and whether the disease may be hereditary or related to genetics.

Sponsored by Incyte Corporation. Produced in association with the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

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Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of Northwestern Medicine, 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.

Paul:

Two questions, and I apologize if this is something you’re going to address later on. We’re talking about treatments right now. What about preventative? Is this all stuff, what percentage are we born with? Did my lifestyle lead to these platelets? Preventative education, like we’re doing now, how, or is that in our genes, like, 80 percent and 20 percent is something that we bring onto ourselves in terms of higher platelets?

Jeff Folloder:

So it’s a great question. Are we born with this? Do we contract it? Does it evolve? How do we wind up here?

Dr. Moliterno:

I’d like to answer that because this is something that, well, we all thought about a lot and wondered in our, in our practices, and the 2005 discovery of the JAK2 mutation really broke through our understanding of these entities. So it is, the JAK2 mutation occurs in a bone marrow stem cell, and this is an acquired [condition]. So I know we talk about genes and genetics, and it sounds like, is this something, I inherited it?

In the vast majority of patients who acquire myeloproliferative disease, like we all have here, this is a spontaneous or a natural occurring event in a gene, in a bone marrow stem cell. It was, we’re not born with it, and you’re not going to pass it along to family members. We are trying to understand why, why did this occur in bone marrow stem cells, right?

And there’s, we’ve always joked that MPN patients tend to be wonderful people, highly educated, higher socioeconomic class, it’s true, and that these diseases are not a consequence of lifestyle or bad habits, but where other diseases can have a, have a component of that. And so this is something important that we have to recognize.

We didn’t bring this on. This isn’t anything that you all did out of inattention to, you know, federal guidelines of how to live a life.

Jeff Folloder:

So no drinking, no smoking, no carousing.

Dr. Moliterno:

No, you can, yeah, carousing won’t do this. I’m not, but I think that’s important because you now, for many things, we want to control our risk. Well, I don’t want to get diabetes. I don’t want to get hypertension. Sometimes we understand that some of these things are, have a genetic basis or you’re predisposed, as much as you can prevent these things. MPN, unfortunately, is not something that, that you can prevent it from occurring. It’s a natural event. It does seem like there may be predisposing factors in families.           

So if you look at MPN patients, about 10 percent of MPN patients will have a first- or second-degree relative that has another MPN, and so that does make us wonder, well gee, maybe there is a risk of getting this, but, that is inherited. But beyond that, we can’t identify what that is.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of Northwestern Medicine, 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 September 2, 2014