During long term follow-up of a cohort of patients with essential thrombocythemia (ET) and polycythemia vera (PV) a higher than expected incidence of myelofibrosis (MF) was noted. In order to test if the explanation could be found in the diagnostic criteria a re-evaluation of diagnosis using the 2008 WHO diagnostic criteria for ET and MF was performed.
This prospective study of 60 patients with ET and PV was set up in 1998 to evaluate the long-term efficacy and tolerability of anagrelide treatment. Bone marrow trephine biopsies were requested from study start, after 2 and 7 years of follow-up. A blinded re-evaluation of the bone marrow trephines was performed. The 2008 WHO bone marrow criteria were used for diagnosis and fibrosis grading.
Of 40 patients with an initial diagnosis of ET, 21 were confirmed as 'true ET' whereas 17 were reclassified as primary myelofibrosis (PMF) (12 PMF-0, 3 PMF-1, 2 PMF-2) and 2 as myeloproliferative neoplasms of uncertain origin. After 7 years of follow-up, 19 of 21 patients with 'true ET' were alive, none had transformed to MF, leukemia, or myelodysplastic syndrome. In contrast, 4/17 patients reclassified as PMF had died, two patients transformed to myelodysplastic syndrome and 7 patients progressed to overt MF.
We conclude that a blinded re-evaluation of bone marrow trephines from study start and after 7 years of follow-up using 2008 World Health Organization criteria was able to differentiate between true ET and PMF with a marked difference in follow-up outcome.
2013. Vol. 18, no 1, 8-13 p.