Recently reported mature survival data have confirmed the favorable prognosis in polycythemia vera (PV), with an estimated median survival of 24 years, in patients younger than age 60 years old. Currently available drugs for PV have not been shown to prolong survival or alter the natural history of the disease and are instead indicated primarily for prevention of thrombosis. Unfortunately, study endpoints that are being utilized in currently ongoing clinical trials in PV do not necessarily target clinically or biologically relevant outcomes, such as thrombosis, survival, or morphologic remission, and are instead focused on components of disease palliation. Even more discouraging has been the lack of critical appraisal from "opinion leaders", on the added value of newly approved drugs. Keeping these issues in mind, at present, we continue to advocate conservative management in low-risk PV (phlebotomy combined with once- or twice-daily aspirin therapy) and include cytoreductive therapy in "high-risk" patients; in the latter regard, our first, second, and third line drugs of choice are hydroxyurea, pegylated interferon-α and busulfan, respectively. In addition, it is reasonable to consider JAK2 inhibitor therapy, in the presence of protracted pruritus or markedly enlarged splenomegaly shown to be refractory to the aforementioned drugs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas