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Chronic Myeloproliferative Neoplasms Treatment (PDQ®)

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Last Modified: 06/17/2014

Essential Thrombocythemia



Essential thrombocythemia is a disease in which too many platelets are made in the bone marrow.

Essential thrombocythemia causes an abnormal increase in the number of platelets made in the blood and bone marrow.

Patients with essential thrombocythemia may have no symptoms.

Essential thrombocythemia often does not cause early symptoms. It is sometimes found during a routine blood test. The following symptoms may be caused by essential thrombocytopenia or by other conditions. Check with your doctor if you have any of the following problems:

  • Headache.
  • Burning or tingling in the hands or feet.
  • Redness and warmth of the hands or feet.
  • Vision or hearing problems.

Platelets are sticky. When there are too many platelets, they may clump together and make it hard for the blood to flow. Clots may form in blood vessels and there may also be increased bleeding. These can cause serious health problems such as stroke or heart attack.

Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options for essential thrombocythemia.

Prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:

  • The age of the patient.
  • Whether the patient has symptoms or other problems related to essential thrombocythemia.