Addressing the Symptom Burden of Patients With MPN
The expert who created an assessment tool to help patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms explain their symptoms to their care ream shares how the idea came to fruition.
BY Robyn Scherber, M.D., M.P.H.
PUBLISHED January 23, 2020
Patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) will have a wide range of symptoms that are sometimes hard to quantify and properly address within a patient’s treatment process. Which is why a simple tool like the MPN symptom assessment form is invaluable for patients and their care team. Behind this assessment form is, Dr. Robyn Scherber, who is one of CURE®’s 2019 MPN Heroes® and was recognized for her research contributions, as well as her advocacy efforts in addressing patient symptom burden.
During the event, CURE® spoke with Scherber, a physician in the hematology department of the UT Health San Antonio Mays Cancer Center, about her efforts in the MPN field and how the form came to be.
So my early work was really focused on creating different symptom assessment forms for patients with MPN. So we first had the MFSAF, the myelofibrosis symptom assessment form, and we went on to expand that to include polycythemia vera and essential thrombocytopenia patients.
That expanded form was called the myeloproliferative neoplasms symptom assessment form. We also tried to kind of bring it down to into just a few items, so it wasn't so broad, and that's when we created what's called the total symptom score or MPN10. To date, that's actually been incorporated into the large guidelines that we have to treat patients with MPN — the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines.
It has also been used in almost all of the clinical trials to date in one form or another. I feel very honored, it's become a benchmark for success in different drugs to see whether or not they are impacting symptom burden in a meaningful way.