There are a number of treatments available that can be used in the treatment of myelofibrosis. Most of the treatments are intended to manage the condition and improve the quality of life for the patient affected. Because myelofibrosis progresses so slowly, the condition may not show any symptoms or require treatment for a long time after the condition has been diagnosed. Once the symptoms of the disorder have appeared, the condition has moved into a more aggressive phase and treatment will be needed to manage the symptoms of the condition and prevent the condition from becoming worse.
The reason why treatment is not begun as soon as a positive diagnosis is obtained is that many of the treatments used for myelofibrosis can cause a wide range of adverse side effects and complications. The individual undergoing treatment may have to be hospitalized for a period of time after treatment to recover and be observed for any issues that may arise. Most of the treatments are also very stressful on the individual and may even endanger their health further. By waiting until the condition requires treatment, the patient is allowed to enjoy their quality of life for a longer period of time.
The common treatments used to manage the symptoms of myelofibrosis include blood transfusions, medications, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Blood transfusions may be used to combat the effects of anemia on the body. Anemia occurs when myelofibrosis inhibits the production of healthy red blood cells in the body. Without the proper number of healthy red blood cells in the body, the body’s systems do not receive enough oxygen and begin to shut down. Blood transfusions introduce healthy red blood cells back into the body, allowing more oxygen to circulate in the blood stream. Individuals that require blood transfusions will have to receive them on a regular basis to keep their circulatory system properly working.
Chemotherapy may be used to reduce the amount of abnormal blood cells in the body by using chemical means to kill the cells. Chemotherapy must be used carefully as the medications are unable to tell healthy cells from abnormal ones, therefore killing a great deal of healthy cells as well. Radiation therapy accomplishes the same goal, but by using radiation instead of chemical agents. Both therapies can be very effective at managing myelofibrosis into remission, but the therapies are very harmful to the body as well. A physician will have to determine whether the patient is healthy enough to survive the treatment before either one of these treatments may be used.
Another treatment option available to individuals that have developed myelofibrosis is bone marrow transplantation. This treatment can be extremely hard on the body and health of the patient affected, so the treatment is not used very often. It also has a high possibility of causing severe, life-threatening side effects and in many cases, physicians determine that the risks of the treatment outweigh the potential benefits. Because myelofibrosis primarily affects the bone marrow of the patient, bone marrow transplantation is the only treatment that has the potential to cure the condition. Research continues into effective treatment options for myelofibrosis and making the treatments currently available safer for those that need them.
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