Keeping track of symptoms

Your myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) is just one part of your whole health picture.

As an MPN patient, it’s important to focus on more than just your MPN, and here’s why: MPNs make your blood “sticky,” affecting blood flow. This can put you at a higher risk of thrombotic events such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), heart attack and stroke. It’s imperative to do everything in your power to reduce your chances of developing preventable illnesses, for example diabetes or coronary artery disease. We didn’t ask for or deserve an MPN, but it’s within our power to fight back. Here’s how:

Symptoms to watch out for are:

  • Itching
  • Night sweats
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Feeling full quickly after eating (early satiety)
  • Weight loss
  • Bone pain
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Inactivity

A simple ten point assessment tool – called MPN10 is available to keep track of your symptoms. Ask your haematologist for a copy or use on-line via this link.

Lose weight if necessary

You can reduce the risk of clots by keeping your weight to a normal level. Detailed and reliable information on losing weight is available from Cancer Research (UK) and from the Mayo Clinic (US).

Exercise regularly

We all know that exercise lowers the risk of heart disease, strokes, deep vein thrombosis and diabetes in healthy patients, what’s more, a study by Harvard University found that daily exercise can help patients reduce their feelings of fatigue.

Review your family history

If some family members have a history of heart disease, diabetes, or breast or colon cancer, you may need more information on preventing these diseases. Additional illnesses such as diabetes can make complications more likely if you also have an MPN. It’s important to prevent additional diseases if possible and control them if they occur.

Get enough sleep

Sleep can be difficult when we are anxious or worried, or busy for that matter, yet it’s vital for health. Sleep allows our immune system to function correctly, and helps us cope with daily stresses.

Have regular health-screening tests

Basic tests to have from age 40 include checking your weight, cholesterol and fasting blood sugar. Other essential tests are mammograms, cervical cancer tests (Pap tests) and prostate cancer screening.

Control stress

Identify what in your life may be putting you under excessive pressure. Make choices about your activities and workload based on your priorities. Try to focus on what you can control, for instance getting more information and help if you need it. Problem solving techniques can also reduce stress. Visit our stress management pages for more ideas.

Be your own advocate

Read your blood test results in detail.  If you feel something is wrong, make sure your doctor understands your concern that something significant has changed.