Behind the Mystery, Polycythemia Vera

Behind the Mystery, Polycythemia Vera


(music.) Milo proliferative neoplasms or
NPNs are a group of rare progressive
blood cancers that affect about
200,000 people in the US. Welcome back to our
continuing series: Behind the Mystery. Today’s topic
focuses on a group of rare blood cancers
known as NPNs, specifically polycythemia
vera which causes the over production of
red blood cells which causes the blood
to thicken and that can lead to serious
health consequences. Here to
shed some light on this rare blood cancer
is oncologist and hematologist Dr.
sharp Ellis and his patient Arthur
who’s diagnosed with PV thank you guys
for being here today. So doctor
let’s start by talking about what is
polycythemia vera? So polycythemia vera is a
rare blood cancer it’s part of a
group of diseases called
myeloproliferative disorders in polycythemia vera
the body over produces red blood cells
which leads to an increase in the red
blood cell count but these patients
often also have an increase in the white
blood cell count and the platelet count as
well it’s a rare disease there are
only about a hundred thousand individuals
with polycythemia vera living in the
United States and with many other rare
disorders it’s therefore often overlooked and poorly
understood. This
over production of red blood cells leads
to thickening of the blood which can
then lead to blood clots and it may include
DVTs or deep vein thrombosis but also
heart attacks and strokes as well. So
doctor can you tell us what are some of
the signs and symptoms of PV that we
should be looking for? So many
of the symptoms of fairly nonspecific,
patients may present with fatigu,e
headaches dizziness many of the patients
report sweats, itching is a symptom
that maybe is a little bit more specific,
patients tend to report more itching after
they take a hot shower. Because of something
we call splenomegaly which is
enlargement of the spleen patients may report
discomfort or pain on the left side of the
abdomen or something we call early satiety
which is as the spleen presses on the
stomach they report a feeling of
fullness after eating just a few bites or very
small amount of food. Now some of
these symptoms sound relatively
common so is polycythemia vera difficult to diagnose and do the
symptoms present the same in every
patient? Certainly the symptoms
can vary between patients and the
symptoms experienced and the intensity of
the symptoms can vary within an
individual patient over time some patients
are asymptomatic they may be
diagnosed because they have routine blood
work that reveals an abnormality with
elevations of the blood counts and so it
really underscores the importance of
raising awareness of this disease both
amongst patients and medical professionals so their patients
report these symptoms and have them
evaluated and that physicians recognize
that these symptoms may represent a
diagnosis of polycythemia vera and make that
diagnosis and institute the correct
management. And Arthur I’d love
to hear a little bit about your
experience, you were diagnosed with PV, how did
you find you had it? About 10 to 11 years
ago following a routine annual
physical my internist felt the blood
results were out of the ordinary and referred
me to an oncologist hematologist who
ran additional blood work and then
suggested a bone marrow biopsy, the
further blood work showed more abnormalities,
the bone biopsy was scheduled I was
hesitant about that but then fortunately
was totally painless procedure and
that confirmed the diagnosis of
polycythemia vera. So doctor is there a cure
for PV? So there is no cure for p vera
but with the correct follow-up with your
doctor the disease can be managed and the
symptoms can be controlled. Do you have
any advice for people out there who might
be finding out that they have
polycythemia vera the best advice is find a
good oncologist hematologist and
follow up as often as possible. As absolutely
right often recommends to make sure
the blood values are kept somewhat
with in check and also check the
website: Voices of MPN dot com, is a good
resource for information. Well thank you both so much for
being here thank you Dr. Pela.s Thank
You Arthur. And as Arthur mentioned
if you want to have more information on
polycythemia vera you can visit voices
of NPN dot com or of course you can always
go to our website thebalancingact.com
for more information. (music.)