Polycythemia Vera

Polycythemia Vera

  • Polycythemia vera is a disorder in which too many red blood cells are produced in the bone marrow.
  • There is an increase in red blood cell mass along with an increased blood volumes viscosity.
  •  For Polycythemia Vera the age of diagnosis is around 60 years old. 
  • A male predominance ranges from 1: 1.6 to 2.2. General frequency is 2-3/100,000 population.
  • Participants of the nuclear weapon test are at higher risk of developing the disorder.  The medial survival is approximately 12-13 years.

 Polycythemia vera is a disorder in which too many red blood cells are produced in the bone marrow. There is an increase in red blood cell mass along with an increased blood volumes viscosity.  For Polycythemia Vera the age of diagnosis is around 60 years old.  A male predominance ranges from 1: 1.6 to 2.2. General frequency is 2-3/100,000 population.

Participants of the nuclear weapon test are at higher risk of developing the disorder.  The medial survival is approximately 12-13 years.

Polycythemia Vera risk factors

Many other symptoms include headaches and a feeling of fullness below the ribs on the left side, this is due to the enlargement of the spleen.

Polycythemia vera is diagnosed by special blood tests, including erythropoietin test and the presence of gene mutation abnormalities. A Jak-2 gene mutation is often found in patients with polycythemia vera,

 

Additional symptoms include:

  • Feeling of pressure fullness below the ribs on the left side.
  • Headaches.
  • Normal vision seeing dark blind spots that come and go.
  • Itching all over the body, especially after being in a warm or hot water.
  • Weakness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Weight loss for no apparent reason.

 

What is the treatment for Polycythemia Vera?

There is no single treatment for chronic myeloproliferative disorders.  During the treatment process, it is important to know the type in order to determine the most effective approach.

These are the standard treatment plans which are used:

  • Watchful waiting: Closely observation of the patient
  • Phlebotomy: During this procedure, approximately 500 to 1000cc of blood is taken from the vein.

Transfusion therapy: giving red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets to replace blood cells destroyed by disease or Cancer treatment.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells either by killing the cells are by stopping them from dividing

 

  • Biologic therapy: consist of the used of interferon alfa and pegylated interferon alpha are biologic agents commonly used to treat some chronic myeloproliferative neoplasms. Also, the use of Thalidomide, lenalidomide, or pomalidomide. Erythropoietic growth factors are also used.
  • Targeted therapy: The used of immunotherapies like Ruxolitinib/Imatinib mesylate, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor used to treat certain types of myelofibrosis.
  • High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant: High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant is a method of giving high doses of chemotherapy and replacing blood-forming cells destroyed by the cancer treatment. Stem cells (immature blood cells) are removed from the blood or bone marrow of the patient or a donor and are frozen and stored. After the chemotherapy is completed, the stored stem cells are thawed and given back to the patient through an infusion. These reinfused stem cells grow into (and restore) the body’s blood cells.
  • Radiation therapy: uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy
  • Other drug therapy: the used of prednisone and danazol
  • Surgery: Splenectomy or removal of the spleen

 

The information in this document does not replace a medical consultation. It is for personal guidance use only. We recommend that patients ask their doctors about what tests or types of treatments are needed for their type and stage of the disease.

Sources:

  • American Cancer Society
  • The National Cancer Institute
  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network
  • American Academy of Gastroenterology
  • National Institute of Health
  • MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • American Cancer Society

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