Evidence-based management of polycythemia vera

Best Pract Res Clin Haematol. 2006;19(3):483-93. doi: 10.1016/j.beha.2005.07.007.


The clinical course of polycythemia vera is marked by significant thrombotic complications and a variable risk of the disease turning either into myeloid metaplasia with myelofibrosis or into acute myeloid leukemia. Cytoreductive treatment of blood hyperviscosity by phlebotomy or chemotherapy and antiplatelet therapy with low-dose aspirin have dramatically reduced the number of thrombotic complications and substantially improved survival. However, there is concern that certain myelosuppressive drugs accelerate the disease progression to acute leukemia. Thus, the objective of management is two-fold: first, to minimize the risk of thrombotic complications; second, to prevent progression to myelofibrotic or leukemic transformation. This chapter provides updated estimates of the risk of thrombosis and disease progression and evaluates the various randomized and observational studies in polycythemia vera, according to an evidence-based approach.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyurea / therapeutic use
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Polycythemia Vera / therapy*


  • Interferon-alpha
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors
  • Hydroxyurea