Primary thrombocythemia is caused by too much growth of a type of cell that is used to make blood cells. The platelets are mostly affected, but the red blood cells and white blood cells may be involved as well. This condition slowly gets worse over time. Because these platelets do not work normally, bleeding is a common problem.
The disease is part of a group of conditions known myeloproliferative disorders. Others include:
Genetic tests (to look for a change in the JAK2 gene)
Uric acid level
The doctors can do a procedure to remove platelets directly from the blood if you have life-threatening complications.
Long-term, you will need to take medicines to decrease the platelet count and avoid complications. The most common of these medicines are hydroxyurea, interferon-alpha, or anagrelide. In some people with a JAK2 mutation, specific inhibitors of the JAK2 protein may be used.
In people who are at a high risk for clotting, aspirin at a low dose (81 to 100 mg per day) decreases clotting episodes. People who may benefit from this treatment include older persons and people with very high platelet levels or who have had past clotting episodes.
Many people do not need any treatment. However, the health care provider should monitor your condition.
The outcome varies. Most people go for long periods without complications and have a normal lifespan. Complications from bleeding and blood clots can cause serious problems in a small number of people.
Rarely, the disease will change into acute leukemia or myelofibrosis.