Stages & Treatment of Chronic Myeloproliferative Disorders

Stages of Chronic Myeloproliferative Disorders

Staging is the process used to find out how far the cancer has spread. There is no standard staging system for chronic myeloproliferative disorders. Treatment is based on the type of myeloproliferative disorder the patient has. It is important to know the type in order to plan treatment. When cancer cells spread outside the blood, a solid tumor may form. This process is called metastasis. Cancer cells spread in the body through blood, lymph system or through solid tissue.

Treatment

Ten types of standard treatment are used:
  • Watchful waiting
  • Phlebotomy
  • Platelet apheresis
  • Transfusion therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Other drug therapy
  • Surgery
  • Biologic therapy
  • High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant

Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting is closely monitoring a patient’s condition without giving any treatment until symptoms appear or change.

Phlebotomy

Phlebotomy is a procedure in which blood is taken from a vein. A sample of blood may be taken for tests such as CBC or blood chemistry. Sometimes phlebotomy is used as a treatment and blood is taken from the body to remove extra red blood cells. Phlebotomy is used in this way to treat some chronic myeloproliferative disorders.

Platelet Apheresis

Platelet apheresis is a treatment that uses a special machine to remove platelets from the blood. Blood is taken from the patient and put through a blood cell separator where the platelets are removed. The rest of the blood is then returned to the patient’s bloodstream.

Transfusion Therapy

Transfusion therapy (blood transfusion) is a method of giving red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets to replace blood cells destroyed by disease or cancer treatment.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly into the spinal column, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy). The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. Radiation therapy to treat myeloproliferative disorders is usually directed at the spleen.

Other Drug Therapy

Anagrelide therapy is used to reduce the risk of blood clots in patients who have too many platelets in their blood. Low- dose aspirin may also be used to reduce the risk of blood clots. Thalidomide and lenalidomide are drugs that prevent blood vessels from growing into areas of tumor cells.

Surgery

Splenectomy (surgery to remove the spleen) may be done if the spleen is enlarged.

Biologic Therapy

Biologic therapy is a treatment that uses the patient’s immune system to fight cancer or other diseases. Substances made by the body or made in a laboratory are used to boost, direct, or restore the body’s natural defenses against disease. This type of treatment is also called biotherapy or immunotherapy. Interferon alfa is a biologic agent commonly used to treat some chronic myeloproliferative disorders. Erythropoietic growth factors are also biologic agents. They are used to stimulate the bone marrow to make red blood cells.

High-dose Chemotherapy With Stem Cell Transplant

High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant is a method of giving high doses of chemotherapy and replacing blood-forming cells destroyed by the cancer treatment. Stem cells (immature blood cells) are removed from the blood or bone marrow of the patient or a donor and are frozen and stored. After the chemotherapy is completed, the stored stem cells are thawed and given back to the patient through an infusion. These reinfused stem cells grow into (and restore) the body’s blood cells.

Clinical Trials

For some patients, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Clinical trials are part of the cancer research process. Clinical trials are done to find out if new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard treatment. Many of today’s standard treatments for cancer are based on earlier clinical trials. Patients who take part in a clinical trial may receive the standard treatment or be among the first to receive a new treatment.

Follow-up

Some of the tests that were done to diagnose the cancer or to find out the stage of the cancer may be repeated. Some tests will be repeated in order to see how well the treatment is working. Decisions about whether to continue, change, or stop treatment may be based on the results of these tests. This is sometimes called re-staging. Some of the tests will continue to be done from time to time after treatment has ended. The results of these tests can show if your condition has changed or if the cancer has recurred (come back). These tests are sometimes called follow-up tests or check-ups. Contact us to request an appointment with one of the hematologists at Diablo Valley Oncology discuss the treatment options available to treat your cancer.