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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Polycythemia Vera: Treatment & Monitoring

Polycythemia Vera

Alternate Names : Primary Polycythemia, Polycythemia Rubra Vera

Polycythemia Vera | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the disease?

Treatment does not cure polycythemia vera. The goal of treatment is to thin the blood enough to decrease the risk of clots and abnormal bleeding. One of the main treatments is to remove some of the person's blood, in a procedure called phlebotomy. The person has blood removed regularly to keep it from getting too thick. A needle is inserted through the skin and into a vein, usually in the hand or forearm. Blood is then removed with the needle.

Chemotherapy is also used in some cases to improve survival. Aspirin can be given to help decrease the risk of blood clots.

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Aspirin can cause allergic reactions, stomach upset, and kidney damage. Chemotherapy can cause many different side effects, including nausea and damage to the kidney or liver. Removing blood can be painful and may result in an infection. If too much blood is removed, a person may feel weak and tired.

What happens after treatment for the disease?

Most people die from polycythemia vera or its complications, with or without treatment. Treatment can allow a person to live longer in most cases, but cannot cure the cancer.

How is the disease monitored?

A CBC is done regularly to monitor blood cells counts and to guide further therapy. Other monitoring is related to any complications that occur, such as blood clots. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.

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Polycythemia Vera: Prevention & Expectations


Author: James Broomfield, MD
Reviewer: Adam Brochert, MD
Date Reviewed: 07/05/01

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