Myelofibrosis (MF) is a blood disorder in which fibers and blasts (abnormal stem cells) build up in your bone marrow.
At Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), our team of experts provides comprehensive diagnostic and medical care along with ongoing monitoring and support for people with primary MF or MF that develops due to another condition.
Request an appointment
Call (855) 557-0555 or fill out our online form to request an appointment, refer a patient or learn more about care at SCCA.
What is myelofibrosis?
Myelofibrosis is a type of myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) — the name for a group of diseases in which a bone marrow problem leads to increased levels of blood cells circulating in the bloodstream.
In MF, an excess of cells in your bone marrow causes scarring (fibrosis). This makes it hard for your marrow to produce the healthy blood cells your body needs. As a result, your body may make some blood cells in your spleen or liver to try to keep up. This can enlarge these organs.
MF can arise as a result of another condition that affects your marrow, like essential thrombocythemia or polycythemia vera, or it can happen on its own. Doctors use the name primary myelofibrosis when there is no other underlying disease that causes the scarring.
In about 20 in 100 patients, MF can lead to acute myeloid leukemia.
Symptoms and diagnosis of myelofibrosis
Some people with MF have no symptoms when their disease is diagnosed. But a routine blood test may show abnormal levels of blood cells. Or your doctor may notice signs of MF during an exam, even if you don’t feel ill.
- Your spleen might be enlarged. Your doctor might feel this when they examine your abdomen. You might notice abdominal pain or fullness.
- You might develop anemia (low red blood cells), which can lead to weakness and fatigue. Your doctor might notice signs like paler-than-usual color to your skin or mucous membranes (such as inside your mouth or the lining around your eyes).
MF can lead to a range of other signs or symptoms, like easy bleeding or bruising (if you have low platelets), frequent infections (if you have low white blood cells), fever, night sweats, pain, itching and loss of weight or muscle mass.
To confirm the diagnosis, you may need blood tests — including tests to check for gene mutations, like JAK2 or CALR, that are common in MF — and tests of your bone marrow.
Read more about diagnosing MPNs.
If you don’t have any symptoms, you may not need any active treatment right now. But it’s important to see your doctor regularly to monitor your condition. This approach is called watchful waiting. MF is a chronic disease that may get worse over time.
SCCA’s team of doctors provides a comprehensive range of treatment options for MF, including JAK-inhibitors, such as ruxolitinib (Jakafi) and fedratinib (Inrebic). These medicines reduce overactive signaling by proteins that may cause your body to make too many blood cells. We also provide therapies you may need to relieve MF-related signs or symptoms, like anemia or bleeding or clotting problems. At SCCA, we also have clinical trials testing new treatments for people with MF.
A blood or bone marrow transplant may be an option for people with severe or advanced MPNs, like MF. This is currently the only type of treatment that has the potential to cure MPNs. The Fred Hutch Bone Marrow Transplant Program at SCCA has performed more bone marrow transplants than any other institution in the world.
Read more about treatment for MPNs.
For more information about primary MF, visit the MPN Research Foundation website.