Sexual problems appear to be a prominent, and largely unaddressed issue for patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms, particularly those with polycythemia vera, essential thrombocythemia, and myelofibrosis, a study published in the journal Cancer has shown.1

Patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms experience oppressive symptoms profiles that negatively impact daily functioning and quality of life. Among these are sexual-related symptoms. Therefore, researchers sought to evaluate how sexuality symptoms due to myeloproliferative neoplasms relate to other patient characteristics, disease features, symptoms, and treatments.

For the study, researchers prospectively assessed 1971 patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms. Of those, 827 had essential thrombocythemia, 683 had polycythemia vera, 456 had myelofibrosis, and 6 were classified as other. All participants completed 2 questionnaires that assessed their symptoms related to their disease and their quality of life.

Continue Reading

Results showed that patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms had greater sexual dysfunction compared with the healthy population (P < .001), with 64% of patients experiencing some degree of sexual dysfunction and 43% reporting severe symptoms.

Researchers found that the presence of sexual symptoms correlated closely with various domains of patient functionality, including physical, social, cognitive, emotional, and role functioning domains. Symptoms were also associated with a reduced quality of life.

The study further demonstrated that sexual problems were associated with other symptoms of myeloproliferative neoplasms, especially depression, nocturnal symptoms, and microvascular-related symptoms.

Patients older than 65 years, patients with cytopenias requiring transfusion, and those receiving immunomodulatory agents or steroids had a higher likelihood of reporting severe sexual dysfunction.

The findings ultimately suggest that patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms may benefit from additional management of these problematic symptoms.


1. Geyer HL, Andreasson B, Kosiorek HE, et al. The role of sexuality symptoms in myeloproliferative neoplasm symptom burden and quality of life: an analysis by the MPN QOL International Study Group [published online ahead of print April 12, 2016]. Cancer. doi:10.1002/cncr.30013.