if you have a myeloproliferative tumor, you may need frequent blood tests.These conditions include polycythemia vera (PV), primary myelofibrosis (PMF), essential thrombocytopenia (ET), chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), and atypical myeloproliferative neoplasms cause abnormal growth of blood cells.
In some cases, myeloproliferative disorders can lead to health complications, such as bleeding, or can develop into leukemia, a type of blood cancer.
This article will answer your questions about the most common types of blood tests for myeloproliferative disorders.
There are several ways to assess the severity, progression, and effectiveness of treatment in myeloproliferative disorders. These methods can be combined with symptoms and blood tests.
For example, PMF is often scored using the classic International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS) and Dynamic-IPSS, both of which involve criteria including blood tests.
Complete blood count (CBC)
A complete blood count (CBC) is one of the most common types of laboratory work used to monitor blood disorders. CBC checks all of your blood cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
If you are undergoing treatment, the test may provide initial clues about the symptoms that are causing you and may need to be repeated at predetermined intervals.
CBC can also identify changes in your condition. For example, ET and PV can evolve into myelofibrosis or leukemia. Early signs of this change, such as a large drop in hemoglobin and platelet counts, can be detected by CBC.
White blood cells (WBC)
White blood cells (WBCs) are part of your immune system and they help fight infections.
There are five types of white blood cells:
The amount of WBC in your blood is usually the first number reported by the CBC. CBC variance (often called variance) looks at the percentage of each type of WBC.
In PV or ET, your WBC count may be slightly elevated. In PMF, some people will have elevated WBC counts, some will have normal counts, and others will have low counts.
High or low white blood cell counts can cause health problems
Red blood cells (RBCs)
The body’s red blood cells (RBCs) carry oxygen from the lungs to the organs.
CBC reports several different red blood cell measurements:
- The red blood cell count is the total number of red blood cells circulating in the blood at that time.
- Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying protein found in red blood cells.
- The hematocrit indicates how much of the blood is made up of red blood cells, which are part of the entire plasma.
Under conditions that cause an increase in the number of red blood cells, such as PV, the number of hemoglobin and hematocrit increases. Hematocrit is often used to check the effect of PV therapy.
Medication or phlebotomy (physical removal of blood) is adjusted according to the desired hematocrit range, which is usually less than 45% in men and 42% in women.
Red blood cell count: a test that measures oxygen-carrying red blood cells in the blood
Blood transfusions may be required when hemoglobin falls below 8 g/dL. Anemia is a low level of red blood cells that can have many causes – red blood cell values can help point to the cause.
Platelet counts are also part of the CBC. Platelets help blood clot, and high or low levels can be an indicator of disease progression.
In patients with ET requiring care, the platelet count can serve as a guideline for treatment based on the desired platelet count.
Health care providers rely on some common blood tests to diagnose and treat people with myeloproliferative disorders. Counts of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in the blood may point to a specific type of disease. In some cases, these findings are used as part of a formula your doctor may use to set a prognostic score, which may help guide your treatment.
A blood smear is a visual microscopic assessment of the size and shape of blood cells in a sample. It can be used to determine the distinguishing features of myeloproliferative disorders and other blood disorders.
For example, red blood cells and platelets become abnormally shaped in myelofibrosis. Certain types of cancer can be identified by changes in the appearance of blood cells.
Is myelofibrosis the same as cancer?
von Willebrand Group
People with ET are at risk for acquired von Willebrand disease, a bleeding disorder. This risk also increases with increasing platelet counts (more than one million platelets per microliter). If you have ET and bleeding, a von Willebrand group may be done to see if that is the cause. Treatment for this condition focuses on reducing platelet counts.
Von Willebrand disease symptoms and treatment
The three blood tests discussed here are the most common for people who have or may have serious blood disorders. Depending on your situation, you may need other tests.
After the initial diagnostic tests, more blood tests are usually required, as your doctor will need to continue to monitor your condition to see if your treatment is working.
If you have frequent blood tests, you can compare your new test results to previous test results to see what changes your doctor is looking for. Your doctor may use certain benchmarks to determine if you need to change your treatment. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions about your results and what they mean for your health.