Myeloproliferative Disorders (Blood Cancers) Treatments

Myeloproliferative Disorders (Blood Cancers) Treatments

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Duke’s blood cancer specialists use the latest medical advances to detect and treat a group of blood cancers called myeloproliferative disorders. Our advanced training and experience ensure we diagnose your condition early and provide you the best possible care. While there is no cure, proper treatment increases the likelihood that you will live for many years with myeloproliferative disorders and experience few complications. We develop a personalized treatment plan to control your condition, minimize painful symptoms, and improve your quality of life.

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About Myeloproliferative Disorders

Myeloproliferative disorders, also called myeloproliferative neoplasms, are caused by the overproduction of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in the bone marrow. They include:

  • Polycythemia vera -- too many red blood cells
  • Essential thrombocytosis -- too many platelets, the blood cells that help the blood clot
  • Myelofibrosis -- excessive collagen or fibrous tissue in the bone marrow that interferes with blood cell production
  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) -- an increased production of white blood cells in the bone marrow

Each of these diseases may have overlapping diagnostic criteria, which is why it’s important for one of our experienced specialists to evaluate your condition.

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Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.


While there is no known cure for myeloproliferative disorders, many effective treatment options are available. Your personalized care plan will depend on the type of disorder you have, your symptoms, and other factors. Treatment options may include:

Active and Dynamic Surveillance

We monitor you regularly and start treatment when symptoms appear or changes in your condition occur.


  • Hydroxyurea is effective for slowing down the bone marrow’s production of blood cells.
  • Anagrelide inhibits the maturation of platelets and stops overproduction of these cells.
  • Interferon-alpha stimulates the immune system to limit the production of red blood cells.
  • Ruxolitinib may be prescribed to treat an enlarged spleen and improve symptoms.
  • Aspirin also may be recommended to reduce the risk of blood clots.


Removes a prescribed amount of blood to bring down blood counts.

Targeted Therapy

Used to treat chronic myelogenous leukemia, these drugs look for and destroy cancer cells while minimizing damage to normal cells.

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Myeloproliferative disorders may be difficult to diagnose because their symptoms often resemble those of other conditions. They increase your risk for stroke and heart attack and may cause an enlarged spleen. Our doctors make an accurate diagnosis to ensure your condition is managed effectively.

Complete Blood Count and Blood Film

Blood is examined under a microscope to count the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy

The doctor removes a small amount of bone marrow, blood, and tissue for examination under a microscope to detect abnormal cells. 

Cytogenetic Analysis

Chromosomes in bone marrow are examined to look for abnormalities in individual cells -- specifically the Philadelphia Chromosome that is used in diagnosing CML.

Genetic Tests

Highly specialized genetic testing looks for the JAK2 gene mutation associated with most myeloproliferative disorders. This allows our experts to examine your genetic makeup, pinpoint your specific diagnosis, and determine your treatment needs. We perform genetic testing on a molecular level, a capability that is not available at many other cancer centers.

Among the Best Cancer Hospitals in U.S.
Where you receive your cancer care is important. Duke University Hospital's cancer program is ranked among the nation's best by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.

Why Choose Duke

Recognized for Excellence
As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, we offer a level of expertise that can only be found in a small number of cancer centers in the country. We are also part of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers dedicated to improving patient care.

Extensive Experience
We treat nearly 1,000 people with blood cancers each year. Our experienced doctors are skilled in diagnosing myeloproliferative disorders and developing a treatment plan designed to achieve the best possible outcome.

Quick Genetic Testing Results
Myeloproliferative disorders may be associated with certain genetic mutations. Identifying these genetic irregularities is key to getting an accurate diagnosis. Our specialized molecular diagnostic lab can perform genetic testing and provide results within 24 to 48 hours so you can begin treatment as soon as possible.

Research Advances
Our doctors investigate new therapies, including targeted agents and stem cell transplants, to treat myeloproliferative disorders. You may benefit from their research before it becomes widely available.

A Team of Specialists
Our blood cancer medical team includes specialists from hematology-oncology, hematopathology, cytogenetics, molecular diagnostics, and adult bone marrow transplant. The team meets regularly to discuss your condition, collect opinions, and offer coordinated and advanced care.

A Caring Environment
You will have access to our comprehensive cancer support services. They can help you understand treatment options and manage the side effects of your treatment. They can also help you and your family cope with the emotional effects of your diagnosis and treatment. View all of our cancer support groups in our event calendar.

A Whole-Body Approach
Our clinical social worker is available to help you cope with the emotional and psychological stress of your disease, as well as other medical or environmental concerns. You may also use our services focusing on nutrition, guided imagery, anxiety control, and meditation. Our cancer survivorship clinic pulls together a range of resources to help you after your treatment ends.