The BCR-ABL-negative myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) are clonal stem cell derived malignancies, which include polycythemia vera (PV), essential thrombocythemia (ET), and myelofibrosis (MF). The MPNs are characterized by dysregulated JAK-STAT signaling pathways. PV and ET are associated with an increased risk of thrombo-hemorrhagic complications, risk of progression to MF and leukemia. Presentation of patients with PV and ET is variable and usually as a result of abnormal full blood count indices (raised hemoglobin and hematocrit, leukocytosis, and thrombocytosis). Presentation with thrombosis or splenomegaly occurs in 30% of patients. Historically thought of as indolent compared with MF, patients with PV and ET have significant disease symptom burden which does not directly correlate to the current clinical prognostic classifications. The mainstay of therapy is reserved for patients with high-risk disease and thus excludes a population of patients with significant symptom related morbidity impacting their quality-of-life and survival. Recent treatment strategies have aimed to incorporate disease burden assessment into the selection of therapeutic interventions such as JAK2 inhibitors and HDAC inhibitors. We will review the advances in the field of MPN symptom assessment and symptom burden experienced by ET and PV patients. We will also discuss the risk-stratified management of ET and PV patients alongside symptom assessment and the impact of potential novel therapies, for patients who fail to respond to conventional treatment.
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