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Cancer Genetics

Polycythemia Vera and Cancer

05/04/1999

Question:

is polycythemia vera a type of cancer...

Answer:

Polycythemia vera (PV) is classified as a "myeloproliferative" disorder. The bone marrow makes too many red blood cells, or erythrocytes. It also makes too many white blood cells and platelets although to a lesser degree. PV is gradual in onset, has a slowly progressive course, and generally begins in late middle age.

Since the red blood cells are increasing in number without the normal control of growth, it technically is a kind of cancer. Modern therapy can change the course of the disease and people commonly are still living 12 years after diagnosis.

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Response by:

Judith A Westman, MD Judith A Westman, MD
Associate Professor, Clinical Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Medical Biochemistry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University