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Primary thrombocythemia

  • Alternative Names

    Essential thrombocythemia; Essential thrombocytosis


    If a patient has life-threatening complications, a procedure to remove platelets directly from the blood (platelet pheresis) can quickly decrease the platelet count.

    Long-term use of medications to decrease the platelet count can reduce both bleeding and clotting complications. The most commonly used medications include hydroxyurea, interferon-alpha, or anagrelide.

    In patients who are at high risk for clotting (older patients, those with very high platelet levels or who have had past clotting episodes), aspirin at a low dose (81 to 100 mg per day) decreases clotting episodes.

    Many patients do not need any treatment. However, the health care provider should monitor their condition.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    The outcome varies. Most people go long periods of time without complications and have a normal life expectancy. In a very small number of patients, complications from bleeding (hemorrhage) and blood clots (thrombosis) can cause serious problems.

    In a small number of patients, the disease will change into acute leukemia or myelofibrosis.

    • Acute leukemia or myelofibrosis
    • Severe bleeding (hemorrhage)
    • Thrombotic episodes (stroke, heart attack, or blood clots in the hands or feet)

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider:

    • If unexplained or prolonged bleeding occurs
    • If chest pain, leg pain, confusion, weakness, numbness, or other new symptoms develop