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Chronic Myeloproliferative Neoplasms Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Treatment Option Overview


See Drugs Approved for Myeloproliferative Neoplasms for more information.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

Radiation therapy to treat myeloproliferative neoplasms is usually directed at the spleen.

Other drug therapy

Prednisone and danazol are drugs that may be used to treat anemia in patients with primary myelofibrosis.

Anagrelide therapy is used to reduce the risk of blood clots in patients who have too many platelets in their blood. Low-dose aspirin may also be used to reduce the risk of blood clots.

Thalidomide, lenalidomide, and pomalidomide are drugs that prevent blood vessels from growing into areas of tumor cells.

See Drugs Approved for Myeloproliferative Neoplasms for more information.


Splenectomy (surgery to remove the spleen) may be done if the spleen is enlarged.

Biologic therapy

Biologic therapy is a treatment that uses the patient's immune system to fight cancer or other diseases. Substances made by the body or made in a laboratory are used to boost, direct, or restore the body's natural defenses against disease. This type of treatment is also called biotherapy or immunotherapy. Interferon alfa and pegylated interferon alpha are biologic agents commonly used to treat some chronic myeloproliferative neoplasms.

Erythropoietic growth factors are also biologic agents. They are used to stimulate the bone marrow to make red blood cells.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors are targeted therapy drugs that block signals needed for tumors to grow.

Ruxolitinib is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor used to treat certain types of myelofibrosis.

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