Among the 'classic' BCR/ABL-negative chronic myeloproliferative disorders, primary myelofibrosis (PMF) is associated with a substantial life-expectancy reduction. In this disease, initial haemoglobin level is the most important prognostic factor, whereas age, constitutional symptoms, low or high leukocyte counts, blood blast cells and cytogenetic abnormalities are also of value. Several prognostic systems have been proposed to identify subgroups of patients with a different risk, which is especially important in younger individuals, who may benefit from therapies with curative potential. Essential thrombocythaemia (ET) affects the patients' quality of life more than the survival, due to the high occurrence of thrombosis, whereas polycythaemia vera (PV) has a substantial morbidity derived from thrombosis but also a certain reduction in life expectancy. Therefore, in the latter disorders, prognostic studies have focused primarily on prediction of the thrombosis, with age and a previous history of thrombosis being the main prognostic factors of such complication. The importance of higher leukocyte counts in thrombosis development has been recently pointed out in ET and PV, where a role for mutated JAK2 allele burden has also been noted. With regard to PMF, the possible association of the mutation with shorter survival and higher acute transformation rate is currently being evaluated.
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