Abstract

Background:

Little objective data exists regarding the impact that myeloproliferative disorders (MPDs) (essential thrombocythemia (ET), polycythemia vera (PV), and myelofibrosis with myeloid metaplasia (MMM)) have on quality of life.

Methods:

An Internet based survey of MPD patients regarding clinical course, co-morbidities (through the Charlson Co-Morbidity Index), fatigue (through two validated fatigue instruments (FACT-AN and Brief Fatigue Inventory (BFI)), and exercise tolerance (Godin Leisure-Time Questionnaire).

Results:

Patient Demographics: A total of 830 MPD patients (median age 56; 60.8% male) from a broad geographic distribution (77% USA: 50 states, 30 countries, 5 continents) responded to the survey. Self reported diagnoses were PV (N=272; 33%), ET (N=221; 27%), or MMM (N=329; 40%) for a median of 5 years (range (0–53).

Clinical History: 708 patients (87%) had undergone treatment for their MPD (drugs 84.6%, phlebotomy 49.5%, other 16%). A history of thrombotic (n=195, 24%) or hemorrhagic events (N=214; 26%) were frequently reported. Blood tests (available in 597 a median 1.65 months prior to survey) showed 37% were anemic (7% transfusion dependent). Additionally, 347 (44%) had splenomegaly, painful in 21%.

Symptoms: Frequent symptoms reported included fatigue (90%), pruritus (57%), night sweats (54%), bone pain (48%), undesired weight loss (15%), and/or fevers (15%). 41% felt restricted in their activities, and 89 (11%) were medically disabled secondary directly to their MPD. 82% of patients felt their fatigue was linked to their MPD. Additionally 69% curtail social activity because of fatigue, and 41% need some degree of assistance with activities of daily living. Charlson co-morbidity index demonstrated 722 (87%) had minimal co-morbidities strengthening the association between fatigue and their MPD. The burden of fatigue decreased from MMM to PV to ET respectively (p=0.0002). Results from both fatigue assessment tools (FACT-AN and BFI) were highly correlated. Fatigue (FACT-AN fatigue subscale) strongly correlated with multiple MPD disease features including: anemia, bone pain, constitutional symptoms, pruritus, splenic pain, hemorrhagic events (all p<0.0001) and thrombosis(p=0.01). Additionally, currently smoking (as opposed to being a prior smoker) was highly associated with increased fatigue (p<0.0001). Interestingly, even in “asymptomatic” patients (those without anemia, splenomegaly, or thrombohemorrhagic complications (n=187)) 73% (n=128; 40% PV, 32% ET, 27% MMM; p=N.S.) described moderate to severe MPD associated fatigue. Reported physical activity was diminished (Godin Leisure Score) between MPD patients and published norms, with 38% describing minimal to no exercise. Overall, 86% stated fatigue was the major obstacle to exercise.

Conclusions: Fatigue is an extremely common problem in patients with MPDs despite current therapies, and a minimal burden of co-morbidities in the majority of patients. Fatigue is also common in patients lacking advanced MPD disease features, or thrombohemorrhagic complications. Clearly, direct attempts to improve fatigue (through pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic interventions) are necessary.

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