Tefferi has developed a treatment algorithm for patients with polycythemia vera. The author is from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.


Basic therapy for all patients:

(1) phlebotomy to a target level (hematocrit < 45% in males; < 42% in females)

(2) low dose aspirin to reduce thrombosis (if no contraindications)

(3) SSRI (such as paroxetine) to reduce pruritis


Contraindications to aspirin therapy:

(1) hypersensitivity

(2) congenital or acquired von Willbrand's disease

(3) hemophilia

(4) bleeding peptic ulcer

(5) bleeding diathesis

(6) platelet count > 1,000,000 per µL


Parameters for determining additional therapy:

(1) age

(2) risk category (low, intermediate/indeterminate, high)

(3) child-bearing potential for a female


Candidates for therapy with hydroxyurea as myelosuppressive agent:

(1) high risk AND < 60 years old AND not a woman of childbearing age

(2) age >= 60 years (high risk)

(3) indeterminate risk AND < 60 years old AND not a woman of childbearing age AND clinical indications for myelosuppression


Candidates for interferon alfa therapy:

(1) woman of childbearing age AND high risk



• Radioactive phosphorus-32 and chlorambucil are not used for myelosuppression because of the risk of acute leukemia.

• I would imagine another antiplatelet agent might be considered if aspirin is contraindicated.


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