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Essential Thrombocythemia

Essential thrombocythemia refers to an increased production of platelets that are not due to other causes such as infection, trauma, surgery, or iron deficiency.

Essential thrombocythemia, or "ET" is most often the result of a gene mutation in one of three genes:

ET may increase the risk of bleeding or a blood clot, such as a heart attack or stroke. Very rarely, it may transform into another disease such as myelofibrosis or acute myeloid leukemia, however this often takes several decades, if it happens at all.

The primary goal of treating ET is to reduce the risk of life-threatening blood clots by reducing modifiable risk factors for developing a blood clot. This includes using medication (shown below) to reduce the platelet count, but may also include increasing physical activity, controlling other illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and stopping smoking, when applicable.

Other blood clots in smaller blood vessels may occur that lead to symptoms. Headaches may be a sign of microvascular clots and should be reported to the hematologist/oncologist. Additionally, in patients with ET, the palms of the hands and and soles of the feet may appear reddish in color which can be associated with burning and warmth. This is known as "erythromelalgia" (e-rith-ro-mel-al-jia) and is usually treated with a daily low-dose of aspirin. Importantly, aspirin must be used with caution in patients with risk factors for bleeding so talk with your doctor before buying this over-the-counter.

NOTE: Treatment Options listed below are not all-inclusive. Other treatments may be available. ChemoExperts provides drug information and does not recommend any one treatment over another. Only your Doctor can choose which therapy is appropriate for you.

Notice to user: The term chemotherapy, later shortened to “chemo”, originated in the early 1900s from Nobel Prize winning German physician and chemist, Dr. Paul Erlich. Dr. Erlich defined chemotherapy to mean “the use of chemicals as a therapy to treat disease.” (Source). Many years later, the term became synonymous with the use of chemicals to treat cancer specifically. Because early cancer therapies became quickly known for their severe side effect profile, the term chemotherapy took on a negative connotation. If we fast forward several decades, the anti-cancer therapies used today have become refined, and for many diseases, treatment can be safely taken in the comfort of your own home.

As chemotherapy has become particularly targeted, certain side effects have lessened, while new side effects have emerged. However, the premise behind therapy, that is using a chemical to kill cancer, has not changed. Therefore, the clinicians who created ChemoExperts.com believe the term “chemotherapy” still very much applies to all anti-cancer medications, but importantly, can no longer suggest what, if any, side effects a patient is likely to experience. For this to become clear, education regarding each individual drug, as well as information derived from the use of combination therapy (multiple chemo medications) is required. As a result, we have structured our website to make it easier for users to learn about cancer treatment and hope that if you are taking or receiving chemotherapy, that ChemoExperts.com is able to provide you with the tools needed to make the journey a little easier and life more rewarding.

Treatment Options

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Created: March 3, 2022 Updated: March 11, 2022

References

1) Tefferi A and Pardanani A. Essential Thrombocythemia. N Engl J Med 2019;381:2135-2144