What Are the Available Treatments for ET?
As with other MPNs, there is no single treatment option that is appropriate or effective for all ET sufferers. While some ET patients may be asymptomatic and require no treatment, others may require various treatments and therapies, based on the symptoms and the results of routine monitoring by a physician.
The decision to use platelet-lowering agents depends on a variety of risk factors, history of bleeding or thrombosis, vascular risk, and the severity of symptoms. The decision is usually made based on factors other than the platelet count itself, unless the platelet count is extremely elevated (>1.5 million) or clearly associated with symptoms. The choice of treatments is generally based on a variety of risk factors including age, history of thrombotic events, and drug tolerance.
When treatment is necessary, the available treatment options for ET patients include:
Low-dose aspirin is usually given to reduce the risk of blood clotting. Aspirin may also help relieve the burning sensation that some ET patients experience in their hands and feet (erythromelalgia, along with other vasomotor symptoms).
Hydroxyurea is often used to treat ET patients at high risk for clotting (over 60 years-old or patients with a prior blood clot). It is usually considered the first line agent for patients that require treatment.
Anagrelide is another option for lowering platelet counts. It is frequently used after a patient has demonstrated intolerance or experienced complications with Hydroxyurea.
Interferon (typically pegylated) is sometimes prescribed for ET patients. Women of childbearing age are often treated with interferon because it hasn’t been shown to cause birth defects.
Novel Therapies and Treatments
Potential new treatments for ET are currently being developed and tested as a result of the discovery of the link between the JAK2 mutation and the incidence of ET. Pegylated interferon, a version of interferon with fewer side effects and easier administration, is being considered as a treatment option for high-risk individuals.
Let’s Change Your ET Prognosis Together.
A blood cancer diagnosis can be emotionally challenging. But the good news is that you don’t have to fight ET alone. At the MPN Research Foundation, we’re here to help change your ET prognosis. Sign up to receive news, updates and information about the latest treatments and other resources for ET patients and their families.