Your treatment approach will depend on how advanced your cancer is, your overall health, what genetic mutations you have, if any, and other factors.
“Myelofibrosis is very heterogenous [diverse],” explains Mesa. “Plans need to be quite individualized because not everybody is the same.”
For example, a small subset of people with myelofibrosis who are low risk and minimally affected by the disease may be candidates for the simplest treatment of all: observation. This means the doctor will watch the cancer carefully, but the patient isn’t on any active treatment.
Medications for Myelofibrosis
- Ruxolitinib (Jakafi)
- Fedratinib (Inrebic)
- Pacritinib (Vonjo)
Medications for Anemia
- Androgens (synthetic hormones)
- Immunomodulators, such as thalidomide or lenalidomide
- Interferon (specific proteins that help the body fight infections)
- A blood transfusion
Treatments for an Enlarged Spleen
- A JAK inhibitor
- Surgery to remove the spleen
Stem Cell Transplant for Myelofibrosis
Because of these risks, Mesa says stem cell transplants are performed in less than 10 percent of patients with myelofibrosis.
“A stem cell transplant can, even in the best circumstances, have a 10 to 15 percent chance of fatal complications,” Mesa says. “To put that in perspective, open-heart surgery carries only a 1 percent risk.”
Participating in a clinical trial may be an option for some people with myelofibrosis. These studies might allow you to receive a therapy that isn’t yet available to the public.
Mesa says there are several drugs being studied in clinical trials that could be beneficial for people with myelofibrosis.
“Be hopeful. There are a lot of new medicines in development, a lot of things that are being discovered, and a lot of people out there rooting for you even though this is a rare cancer,” he says.