How is PV Treated?
Effective management of PV should aim to both reduce the risk of thrombosis and complications, such as heart attacks and strokes, and to manage symptoms so that your overall quality of life is better.
It is vital to monitor and control your haematocrit level (the percentage of red blood cells in your blood) as this is an important indicator of the severity of your condition.
Keeping your haematocrit levels below 45% and normalising your white blood cell and platelet counts can help to reduce the risk of major thrombosis and cardiovascular complications.
Controlling your blood cell count and reducing splenomegaly (enlarged spleen) can also help to minimise the risk of your PV progressing to myelofibrosis or acute myeloid leukaemia.
The effective management of your PV can also help alleviate some of the symptoms that these blood problems can cause.
My primary objective in considering a new treatment option for
a patient is how appropriate it is to the individual’s circumstance.
If you have no symptoms when you are diagnosed but your haematocrit levels (the percentage of red blood cells in your blood) are too high, your doctor may recommend using a procedure called phlebotomy to help reduce the volume percentage of red blood cells in your blood. Phlebotomy is a simple procedure that involves the removal of some of your blood to help reduce your haematocrit level. The procedure is similar to donating blood. Phlebotomy may not address all of the complexities of your disease however.
Avoiding situations that make symptoms worse can also help – for instance, hot baths can make itching worse.
Your haematologist will be able to discuss your options based on your individual circumstances. If phlebotomy alone isn’t effective in reducing blood cell numbers, medications may be prescribed to help stop your bone marrow producing too many blood cells. Discuss all therapy options with your physician. Treatments impact each individual differently, so regular assessments with your doctor can help identify if a new treatment is needed.
Complementary therapies can be very important in managing MPNs. They often help specific symptoms; for example, some creams with mint of menthol can be used for cooling the skin and easing itching.