Diagnosis and Treatment of EV
Diagnosis of essential thrombocythemia requires blood testing. A complete blood count measures blood cells and platelets. Normal platelet levels are between 150,000 to 400,000 platelets per microliter (μL) of blood. Consistent platelet levels over 600,000/μL may be a sign of essential thrombocythemia. Your doctor may order the following tests to gather more information or rule out other causes:
- Testing for the presence of JAK2 mutation or other genetic mutations
- Bone marrow biopsy and aspirate, helps to rule out other causes and confirm an ET diagnosis
Different health care providers involved in your care may include a hematologist/oncologist, a nurse, a nurse navigator, an oncology social worker or a pharmacist. These people can help you find information and resources that may be useful before, during and after treatment. Ask your doctor about the other members of your health care team – their names and how you can arrange to meet them. You also may want to ask your insurance company to assign you a case manager to help you understand which treatments and services your health insurance will cover.
Treatment choices depend on your diagnosis and the extent of the disease. The various drugs used to treat essential thrombocythemia work in different ways, and may have different side effects. Ask for more information before starting treatment. Your options may include:
- Watch & Wait: People with no symptoms are generally not treated at the time of diagnosis. Some people remain stable and symptom free for many years. It is very important for anyone who has been diagnosed with essential thrombocythemia to be closely monitored through regular medical check-ups to look for any signs or symptoms of disease progression.
- Chemotherapy can help reduce the platelet count. Drugs are usually given in pill form, but may be given through a vein.
- Aspirin, taken orally, in low doses, can help reduce the risk of clotting.
- Biological therapies can help reduce platelet counts. They are usually given by injection.
- Interferon is an immunotherapy also used to reduce blood counts. It is not necessary for everyone, but can be helpful in selected cases. This medicine comes as a shot.
Other treatments may be available through clinical trials. Clinical trials can offer the opportunity to benefit from the latest treatments or combinations of treatments while helping advance knowledge of the disease and its treatment options. Ask your health care team if a clinical trial might be right for you.