Although there are currently no medications that can completely cure an MPN, there are many treatment options available to you.
The kind of medication that you need depends on which MPN you have, your general health and your personal situation. Some people with “low risk” MPNs may only need minimal medication, while others will need treatments to reduce risks, the kind of treatment will depend on the kind of MPN and the problems it might be causing. Sometimes treatment options might include a drug trial.
Tips for treatment decisions
Understand your condition
Read up about your MPN and review your test results carefully. Ask your haematologist for help in understanding your condition, and use our treatments section as a resource.
Talk with your doctor
Your doctor will recommend a treatment plan and may offer several alternatives. Ask questions to be sure you understand how any drugs your haematologist prescribes will treat your condition.
Ask for alternatives. If you are not sure you are comfortable with the treatments suggested, ask for more information and if there are any alternatives.
Ask for more time. You can also ask your doctor for more time to consider your treatment options before making a decision.
Ask for written information and perhaps a copy of the letter that will be written to your GP about your consultation.
Consider your situation
Your objectives can change at different times in your life. You can reassess your situation from time to time and consider if you need a change in plan, for instance during pregnancy, after having a child, after experiencing long-term side effects of medication or after undergoing a change in health. Learn more about adjusting to new situations in our ways to feel better section.
Understand your risks
People with MPNs are at higher risk of clotting and bleeding events than the general population – but your own individual level of risk may be low, medium or high depending on your age, type of MPN and overall health. The best treatment choice for a person at low risk of clots may be different than that for a person at higher risk. You may be concerned about the long-term risks and side effects of taking a particular medication, but this concern should be balanced by the need to protect your health in the medium term. Your haematologist can advise you on your risk level and which treatments are most appropriate for you.
Give treatments time
It can take time to adjust to a medication and side effects can sometimes fade as your body adjusts. Be sure to inform your haematologist of any side effects you are experiencing so that he or she can suggest ways to reduce them. Conversely you may find that side effects increase over time. If new side effects occur or if you notice unfamiliar changes it is important to inform your doctor.
You can change your mind
If you begin treatment with a new medication and find that the side effects are difficult to tolerate or if you are not comfortable with the medication, you can change your mind. Be sure to inform your doctor so that he or she can suggest alternatives.
Try complementary therapies
No matter which conventional treatment your haematologist recommends, complementary therapies can be a valuable part of your treatment plan. Therapies such as yoga, meditation and massage have all been proven in hospital studies to reduce stress decrease fatigue and pain and increase wellbeing for patients. It’s not an either/or choice and complementary therapies can work well in combination with conventional therapies.