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Myeloproliferative Disorder (MPD)

What is a Myeloproliferative Disorder?

Myeloproliferative disorders cause blood cells (platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells) to grow abnormally in the bone marrow.

The type of MPD depends on which type of cell your body is overproducing.

MPD mostly affects one type of blood cell more than the others, but it sometimes can involve two or more.

Types of MPD

Myeloproliferative disorders include:

  • Chronic eosinophilic leukemia — this rare cancer occurs when the bone marrow makes too much eosinophils (a type of white blood cell).
  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia — this disease of the bone marrow causes the growth of abnormal granulocytes (a type of white blood cell).
  • Chronic neutrophilic leukemia — this rare cancer involves an overabundance of neutrophils, or granulocytic white blood cells.
  • Essential thrombocythemia — this is the overproduction of platelets, causing the blood to become too sticky. This type of MPD can lead to clogged blood vessels, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.
  • Polycythemia vera — this disease occurs when the marrow makes too many red blood cells. A genetic mutation is strongly associated with polycythemia vera.
  • Primary myelofibrosis (also called chronic idiopathic myelofibrosis) — in this disease, the bone marrow makes too much collagen. The excess collagen limits the ability of the marrow to produce blood cells.

Myeloproliferative Disorder Prognosis

Prognosis depends on:

  • The type of MPD.
  • Your overall health.
  • Your response to treatment.

MPD tends to form slowly. Many people don't notice symptoms until years after onset.

About 20 percent of people with MPD get multiple myeloma.

Risk Factors for Myeloproliferative Disorders

MPD risk factors vary based on the type of disorder in this group.

Polycythemia vera

  • Age — people older than 60 are at greater risk.
  • Environmental exposure — high radiation doses may increase risk.
  • Gender — men are twice as likely as women to get this condition.

Essential thrombocytosis

  • Age — people older than 60 are at risk, but 20 percent of cases occur in people under 40.
  • Environmental exposure — certain chemicals or electrical wiring may increase risk.
  • Gender — women are 1.5 times more likely to get this condition.


  • Age — people between 60 and 70 are at higher risk.
  • Environmental exposure — intense radiation exposure or exposure to benzene may increase risk.
  • Gender — men are slightly more at risk.

Chronic myelogenous leukemia

  • Age — people between 45 and 50 are at higher risk.
  • Environmental exposure — high radiation doses may increase risk.
  • Gender — men are at higher risk.

How are Myeloproliferative Disorders Diagnosed?

One of the first signs of MPD is an enlarged spleen. If you have an enlarged spleen, your doctor will likely test you for MPD.

Blood tests will find any abnormalities in the red or white blood cells, including problems with overproduction. You may also need a bone marrow biopsy.

Studying your cells under a microscope may show a change in the chromosomes associated with MPD.

Contact Us About MPD Care

To reach the Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, call 412-864-6600.