What are the symptoms? 

Symptoms of polycythaemia vera (PV)

Many people are first diagnosed with PV when the disease is noticed accidentally during a routine blood test or physical examination and they do not have any symptoms. When symptoms do exist, they gradually develop over time. This gradual change is mainly due to the increased thickness (hyper-viscosity) of the blood, slower blood flow and an increase in the volume of blood. Changes in the production of certain body chemicals (inflammatory cytokines) may also cause symptoms such as fatigue, itchiness and sweating.


Want to know more about how your symptoms are affecting you? Use the MPN10 tool to help you assess your symptoms and explain to your doctor how you are feeling.View MPN10 »


The list of PV symptoms below should give you a feel for the more common symptoms of PV. Work through this list and consider what symptoms relate to you. Remember, you may not be experiencing any symptoms at this point, especially if you have been recently diagnosed.

  • Symptoms of anaemia (low red blood count)
    • -Fatigue and weakness
    • -Inactivity (associated with fatigue)  
  • Symptoms associated with an enlarged spleen (splenomegaly):
    • -Abdominal pain and discomfort, on the left side below the ribs
    • -Early satiety (feeling of fullness)
    • -Weight loss (associated with loss of appetite) 
  • Other symptoms:
    • -pain and discomfort in the abdomen or stomach
    • -Skin itchiness (also called pruritus)
    • -Concentration problems
    • -Excessive sweating, especially at night
    • -Fever
    • -Bone pain



The most common troubling symptom that impacts on daily living is fatigue, although this varies from patient to patient, and can change over time.

– Professor Claire Harrison