Myelofibrosis is a form of leukemia that affects the body's production of blood cells, describes Mayo Clinic. The disorder is uncommon but is chronic and can progress into a more serious form of leukemia over time.
The symptoms of myelofibrosis include anemia, an enlarged spleen, pale skin, frequent infections and bone pain, according to Mayo Clinic. Many people with myelofibrosis don't experience any symptoms for several years because the disorder develops very slowly. Genetic mutations in blood stem cells cause myelofibrosis.
Doctors most commonly diagnose myelofibrosis is most commonly diagnosed in middle-aged people, notes Mayo Clinic, but other risk factors include exposure to radiation or certain chemicals, such as toluene and benzene. Those with some other form of blood cell disorder are also at higher risk for myelofibrosis.
Immediate treatment is not always necessary, explains Mayo Clinic. Instead, doctors may monitor the progress of the disorder over time. Treatment usually involves treating the symptoms of the disorder. This includes blood transfusions or androgen therapy to treat the resultant anemia. Myelofibrosis can cause the spleen to become enlarged. In these cases, a splenectomy, removal of the spleen, is sometimes required. Doctors also sometimes use chemotherapy in an attempt to reduce the size of the spleen.