Myelofibrosis is a disorder of the bone marrow in which the marrow is replaced by fibrous scar tissue.
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Bone marrow is the soft, fatty tissue inside your bones. Stem cells are immature cells in the bone marrow that develop into all of your blood cells. Your blood is made of:
Red blood cells (which carry oxygen to your tissues)
White blood cells (which fight infection)
Platelets (which help your blood clot)
When the bone marrow is scarred, it cannot make enough blood cells. Anemia, bleeding problems, and a higher risk for infections may occur.
As a result, the liver and spleen try to make some of these blood cells. This causes these organs to swell.
The cause of myelofibrosis is often unknown. There are no known risk factors. When it occurs, it often develops slowly in people over age 50. Women and men are equally affected. There is an increased occurrence of this condition in Ashkenazi Jews.
Blood and bone marrow cancers, such as myelodysplastic syndrome, leukemia, and lymphoma, may also cause bone marrow scarring. This is called secondary myelofibrosis.
Symptoms may include any of the following:
Abdominal fullness, pain, or feeling full before finishing a meal (because of an enlarged spleen)
Make an appointment with your provider if you have symptoms of this disorder. Seek medical care right away for uncontrolled bleeding, shortness of breath, or jaundice (yellow skin and whites of the eyes) that gets worse.
Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.