Why does an MF patient's spleen enlarge?

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners 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. 

Have a question for the experts? Send them to questions@patientpower.info.

Question from Dave:
What is the spleen's function? Why does it get so large in an MF patient? When it has to be removed, how do we live without it?

Answer from Dr. Leclair:
The spleen does two major things:  

  1. It is part of the immune system and makes lymphocytes, provides surveillance against foreign material and in general protects you from infection; and,
  2. Because of its structure, it traps dead or damaged red cells in its vessels, kills them off (a kind of quality control here) and processes the material for recycling. During gestation, it makes red cells but it shouldn't need to after birth since your marrow has more than enough capacity.

So when you have a lot of cell death or damage as in MF, the spleen can get overbusy and grow to accommodate the issue. The spleen can also get frustrated enough by the MF to start making its own blood cells. It doesn't do this well or efficiently, but it does try.

One of the fascinating things about the body is the level of redundancy it has. A significant part of the spleen's function is also seen in the liver and, while the spleen is an important part of the immune system, it is not the only part of the immune system, so other organs and nodes try to compensate for its loss.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners 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. 

Have a question for the experts? Send them to questions@patientpower.info.

Advertisement
Join Our Community Register for Events Read Our Latest Blog
Advertisement

Page last updated on September 24, 2015