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Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP)

A disorder where platelets decrease in number due to decreased production in the bone marrow and increased destruction in the blood. This can lead to an increased risk of spontaneous bruising or bleeding (without injury), especially when the platelet count drops below 30,000 cells per microliter of blood.

I  = Immune, ITP is caused by a disturbance in the immune system
T  = Thrombocytopenic, a medical term meaning low platelet count
P  = Purpura, a type of bleeding in the skin

ITP is NOT a cancer, but it is commonly managed by hematologists (blood doctors) who often treat blood cancers as well. ITP is an uncommon condition and may be caused by auto-immune disorders, infections, certain medications, or pregnancy. However, in many cases, a cause cannot be identified which gives rise to its other name-idiopathic (meaning “cause unknown”) thrombocytopenic purpura. Although ITP may spontaneously resolve, for some patients lifelong therapy may be needed.

The effectiveness of medications may depend upon the causes of ITP and the ability to remove these causes, or whether a splenectomy (removal of the spleen) has been performed, or is able to be performed.

Deciding on a treatment for ITP is in a way like buying, owning, and driving a car. Think about the following similarities to help you understand which treatment is right for you:

BUYING: "0 - 50 time" (0 to 50 k/µL platelets, instead of 0 - 60 m.p.h) is an important performance feature
Once the platelet count exceeds 50 k/µL, bleeding episodes are rare. Therefore, the time it takes to go from very few platelets to a platelet count over 50 k/µL matters. In general, steroids such as prednisone and dexamethasone have the fastest "0 - 50" time.

OWNING: Warranty offered?
A 5-year bumper-to-bumper warranty helps us worry less about something breaking or going wrong with our vehicle after we buy it. Likewise, not all medications used for ITP have a long-lasting effect in keeping the platelet count above 50 k/µL.

DRIVING: Cruise control optional?
The ability for a treatment to maintain the platelet count within the goal range is similar to setting the cruise control on a car.

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.

Treatment Options

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Created: November 16, 2016 Updated: January 17, 2018


1) Kistangari G, McCrae KR. Immune thrombocytopenia. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 2013;27:495-520.

2) Cuker a, Neunert C. How I treat refractory immune thrombocytopenia. Blood. 2016;128:1547-1554.

3) Wong RSM, Saleh MN, Khelif A, et al. Safety and efficacy of long-term treatment of chronic/persistent ITP with eltrombopag: final results of the EXTEND study. Blood. 2017;130:2527-2536.