MPN Symptoms Mimic Other Conditions, Open Communication Is Key


Patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms should keep their care team up to date on any symptoms they’re experiencing, an expert said.

Myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) symptoms can often appear as another condition, making it essential that patients find a cancer care team that they trust and can have open communication with, according to Patrick Buxton.

Buxton, who is a clinical nurse manager at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle and a 2023 MPN Hero, explained that certain side effects like constant fatigue could mimic conditions such as depression. That is why it is important for patients to work with their oncology team to establish a baseline of lab results and symptoms and keep them up to date on how they are feeling.

READ MORE: Discussing MPN Side Effects With the Care Team Aids in Personalized Care


I am a huge patient advocate to begin with, and I have just discovered, through my time in oncology, that patients with MPNs can be a little bit more vulnerable because a lot of their symptoms can look like something else. Their chronic fatigue — and this is where it takes a lot of trust and open conversations with the patients — looks a lot like depression.

So for a lot of these patients, their symptoms aren't properly handled, because it is easily looked like something else. So it takes an open conversation with these patients to establish what is your baseline, what are the changes and working with the doctor to kind of establish the parameters for hemoglobin, hematocrit platelets that work best for these patients and also encouraging them to make sure they get out of bed to keep moving because this is something that's very easy to shut down with.

Transcript has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

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