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Leukaemia Foundation shines spotlight on National MPN Awareness Day today

September 12, 2019

The Leukaemia Foundation is today honoring Australians living with the rare blood disorder Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPNs) as part of National MPN Awareness Day.

MPNs are just some of the many rare blood disorders which are seeing a rise in incidence, prevalence and mortality. More than 1205 Australians are diagnosed with MPNs each year, and around 240 of those lose their life to the disease[1].

“MPNs are lesser known than many blood cancers and recent research shows that like all blood cancers, its incidence and mortality have been underestimated and under-reported,” a Leukaemia Foundation spokesperson said.

“Unfortunately, as with all blood cancers and disorders, this means we will see more Australians diagnosed with the disease in coming decades. We stand beside them today on National MPN Awareness Day, and pledge to continue to support them and the search for a cure.”

MPNs occur when bone marrow stem cells grow and reproduce abnormally. In patients with MPN, abnormal stem cells produce excess numbers of one or more types of blood cells (red cells, white cells and/or platelets). These abnormal cells cannot function properly and can cause serious health problems unless properly treated and controlled.

People with MPN have an increased risk of the disease transforming to an acute leukaemia depending on the subtype – essential thrombocythaemia (4%) Polycythaemia vera (9%) and  myelofibrosis (21%).

Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) is one of Australia’s deadliest blood cancers, and has a five year survival rate of just per cent.[2]

The Leukaemia Foundation has invested into research of MPNs as part of its $50 million National Research Program, and continues to advocate and support all Australians living with more than 120 different blood cancers across the nation.

The Leukaemia Foundation last week released a first of its kind, State of the Nation: Blood Cancer in Australia Report which showed blood cancer in Australia is now more significant and prevalent than ever before, and incidence rates are on the rise.

“The report has shown us that when all of these sub types – like MPN – are grouped together that blood cancer is having a much bigger impact in Australia than was previously thought,” the spokesperson said.

“In fact, blood cancer is one of the most common and most deadly cancers in Australia.”

The State of the Nation report revealed that by 2035, 275,000 Australians will be living with blood cancer, including MPNs, compared to 110,000 in 2019.  Today, 41 Australians will be told they have blood cancer, and 20 will lose their life.

These figures will more than double by 2035 to almost 100 people diagnosed every day, and more then 40 people losing their life to blood cancer, according to the Report.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced the establishment of a National Blood Cancer Taskforce to help address these and many more challenges facing Australians living with blood cancers today, and into the future. The Taskforce will help a national agenda toward Zero Lives Lost to Blood Cancer by 2035.

To learn more about blood cancer or if you would like to receive a copy of the State of the Nation: Blood Cancer in Australia report or the Leukaemia Foundation’s response titled ‘My Life Counts’, go to

What is MPN

  • Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) are a group of disorders in which the bone marrow stem cells grow and reproduce abnormally.
  • MPNs are sometimes described as being clonal blood stem cell disorders. This means that they result from a change, or mutation, in the DNA of a single blood stem cell.
  • In MPN the original mutation is preserved when the affected stem cell divides and produces a ‘clone’: a group of identical stem cells all with the same defect. Mutations in dividing cells occur all the time and healthy cells have sophisticated mechanisms within them to stop these abnormalities persisting. But the longer we live, the more chance we have of acquiring mutations that manage to escape these safeguards.
  • MPNs are usually described according to the type of blood cell which is most affected. MPNs are closely related diseases, so it’s not uncommon for people to have features of more than one MPN when they are first diagnosed, or during the course of their illness.
  • The three main forms of MPNs – polycythaemia vera , essential thrombocythaemia and myelofibrosis, There are also rarer, sub sets of the disease.
  • MPN is more commonly diagnosed in people over the age of 50 although it can rarely occur in younger people, even very more rarely in children. Most people with an MPN have no family history of the disease.
  • Many people have no symptoms when they are first diagnosed with an MPN and the disease is picked up accidentally during a routine blood test or physical examination.
  • Symptoms include headaches, blurred vision, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, itchiness, night sweats and raised blood pressure.

To find out more about MPN or to subscribe to the Leukaemia Foundation’s MPN Newsletter go to www.



Last updated on January 3rd, 2023

Developed by the Leukaemia Foundation in consultation with people living with a blood cancer, Leukaemia Foundation support staff, haematology nursing staff and/or Australian clinical haematologists. This content is provided for information purposes only and we urge you to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis, treatment and answers to your medical questions, including the suitability of a particular therapy, service, product or treatment in your circumstances. The Leukaemia Foundation shall not bear any liability for any person relying on the materials contained on this website.