Christine's Treatment for MPN

Christine's Treatment for MPN

As we raise awareness of myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN), hear from Christine aged 63 who is undergoing treatment for this rare form of blood cancer at our GenesisCare centre in Bristol. Christine shares the key signs and symptoms she suffered in the hope others can identify concerns and access the treatment they need. In Christine's words "Hopefully everybody's journey would be the same as mine, as once I started treatment, I felt so much better".

Christine enjoyed a busy social life with her family and friends when she began to notice symptoms of severe fatigue and night sweats, which she initially put down to perhaps being a delayed effect of the menopause, “I had night sweats every night, my fatigue became so prevalent I would fall asleep when out for dinner, in a concert, anywhere. I also noticed unexplained bruising and my gums bleeding and I was spitting a lot of blood when brushing my teeth”.

Christine was first aware of an issue with her blood in 2021, after a fall at work and visit to A & E revealed she had high blood pressure. Subsequent routine blood tests then showed she had elevated blood counts. Christine was referred to a haematologist at her local NHS hospital, where further blood tests revealed she had MPN, and was given the shocking news this meant she was at higher risk of heart attack, stroke and blood clots.

“I was in total shock, I hadn’t heard of MPN before and felt so confused. Looking back, I can see the night sweats and fatigue were symptoms I should have had investigated, I just hadn’t connected they were a concern.

As MPNs affect the way blood cells are produced in the body, I produced more red blood cells than normal. My Haematologist explained treatment would be needed to get my blood levels in a range to lower the risk of blood clots. I was given a series of venesections to help bring my blood count back to normal for the short term and daily aspirin.

I was told there would then be a wait for my onward care and remember feeling very panicked, not wanting to delay, I called my health insurance provider through my work and thankfully found I was covered for this condition. It was quickly and easily arranged for me to continue a further 4 venesections at Spire hospital in Bristol and I was referred to Dr Mehta for specialist MPN care at GenesisCare in Bristol”.

The moment I arrived at GenesisCare I felt at ease, from the receptionist, nurses to consultant, all welcomed me with such warmth. Dr Mehta explained my personalised treatment programme of chemotherapy tablets Hydroxycarbamrode, and aspirin, which I have now been on with doses adjusted as needed, over the last 3 years. Recently I've been started on a JAK2 inhibitor Ruxolitinib with gradual weaning off the hydroxycarbamide, to have more targeted effect on my MPN and reduce the risk of progression”.

3 years into treatment I am feeling great, and just returned from a holiday away with friends in the sun.

I can’t thank the team at GenesisCare in Bristol enough – I simply wouldn’t be where I am today without them. I just hope by sharing my experience, others can recognise the signs and symptoms and access the treatment they need.

Symptoms of MPN:

  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Early satiety
  • Abdominal pain
  • Inactivity
  • Concentration problems
  • Night sweats
  • Itching
  • Bone pain
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

Dr Priyanka Mehta, Consultant Haematologist at GenesisCare Bristol and an expert in myeloid cancers explains: “It’s common for symptoms of MPN to go unnoticed or be dismissed as they can often be non-specific things such as fatigue or night sweats, but it’s very important that anyone with persistent symptoms or symptoms which cannot be explained gets checked. A simple blood test is often all it takes. 

Being diagnosed early can often have a significant impact for patients. MPN is a cancer diagnosis and chronic disease but there are solutions and effective new treatments. GenesisCare provides patients with individualised therapies based on their needs to give them the best outcomes.”