Ruxolitinib is used to treat patients with end-stage myelofibrosis, according to the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Also known by the brand name Jakafi, ruxolitinib inhibits the production of Janus kinase enzymes that form within bone marrow that lead to this life-threatening form of leukemia.
Jakafi is the first medication approved by the FDA to specifically treat myelofibrosis, states the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Before this medication was approved, doctors used supportive treatments such as blood transfusions and alternative chemotherapy treatments to treat the disease. While ruxolitinib extends survival rates and improves a patient's symptoms, it is not a cure for myelofibrosis. Researchers find that ruxolitinib may extend life expectancy by four to five years, but the medication eventually becomes ineffective after lengthy use.
Myelofibrosis is a disease of the bone marrow that results in anemia, an enlarged spleen, extreme fatigue and bone marrow scarring, reports the Mayo Clinic. Patients with early-stage myelofibrosis may not require treatment if they don't show symptoms such as anemia or spleen enlargement, but they do undergo periodic examinations and testing to watch for progression of the disease. Early treatments include targeting anemia itself through blood transfusions and medications such as thalidomide in an effort to reduce spleen enlargement. Splenectomy, or removal of the spleen, is another treatment option when pain is present or if medications are ineffective in reducing spleen size.