Essential thrombocythaemia is one of a group of conditions called myeloproliferative neoplasms (myeloproliferative disorders). They also include:
- polycythaemia vera
We already know from research that changes in the CALR, MPL and JAK2
Researchers want to understand more about these genetic changes and why they might happen.
Researchers are looking at ways to improve the diagnosis and treatment of all myeloproliferative neoplasms. Some of this research is suggesting that it may be better to group these cancers depending on whether they are JAK2 positive or negative. The JAK2 gene makes a protein that controls how many blood cells the stem cells make. A fault with your JAK2 gene means the stem cells can start producing platelets when they're not meant to. Scientists hope that improving the diagnosis this way might help doctors choose targeted treatments in the future.
How do myeloproliferative neoplasms develop?
Researchers are looking to try to explain how myeloproliferative neoplasms develop. And to use this information to develop new treatments in the future. Scientists think that myeloproliferative neoplasms might happen because proteins called tyrosine kinases act as
UK trial teams are also looking more closely at the relationship between ET and blood clots.
Research into treatment
Researchers are looking into new types of treatment to stop the JAK2 gene signalling to stem cells to make more blood cells. These are called JAK2 inhibitors. Ruxolitinib is a JAK2 inhibitor. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells. Researchers are looking at the results of a trial using ruxolitinib and a chemotherapy drug called azacitidine for people with ET.
Other drugs that are being looked at internationally include tamoxifen and pacritinib.
Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Database
You can find a clinical trial looking at essential thrombocythaemia on our clinical trials database. Click on the ‘recruiting’, ‘closed’ and ‘results’ tabs to make sure you see all the trials.
Generally speaking, the outlook is good, if the condition is carefully monitored and treated as needed.
Some people with ET go on to develop a more aggressive disease. This might include progressing to myelofibrosis, where the bone marrow becomes scarred and less able to produce cells. Fewer than 5 in 100 people (fewer than 5%) go on to develop acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).
Everyone is different, and your specialist will be able to give you a clearer idea of how things look in your situation.
Coping with a rare condition can be difficult both practically and emotionally. Being well informed about your condition and possible treatments can make it easier to make decisions and cope with what happens.
It can also help to talk to people with the same thing. But it can be hard to find someone with a rare condition. You can look at Cancer Research UK’s discussion forum - Cancer Chat. It is a place to share experiences, stories and information with other people who know what you are going through.
Cancer Research UK nurses
MPN voice provide information, community and advocacy for people with myeloproliferative neoplasms and their families or carers. They also have information for healthcare professionals.
Telephone: 07934 689 354 (Monday to Friday between 8am and 5pm)
Leukaemia Care is a national blood cancer support charity, committed to ensuring that anyone affected by blood cancer receives the right information, advice and support.
It provides a range of support services to patients and their carers, including information, support groups, patient and carer conferences, and nurse education days.
Nurse or support team number: Freephone 08088 010 444 (Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5:30pm, Thursday and Friday evenings 7pm to 10pm).
Blood Cancer UK
Blood Cancer UK fund research into leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. It also provides patient information booklets and leaflets that you can download or order from their website.
Support line: 0808 2080 888 (10am to 7pm, Monday to Friday and 10am to 1pm on Saturday and Sunday)