How is thrombocytosis treated?

Patients who have no symptoms may remain stable and only require routine check-ups by their physician. Secondary forms of thrombocytosis rarely require treatment.

For those with symptoms, a few treatment options are available. One is to treat the disease that is causing thrombocytosis. In some cases, the patient can take aspirin to help prevent blood clots. The low dose used for this purpose does not usually cause stomach upset or bleeding.

In essential thrombocythemia, drugs such as hydroxyurea or anagrelide are used to suppress platelet production by the bone marrow. These drugs usually have to be taken indefinitely. Treatment with interferon is sometimes necessary but is associated with a greater number of side effects.

Newer agents are now being developed in an effort to suppress the overproduction of platelets. In cases of severe life-threatening thrombocytosis, a procedure called plateletpheresis is performed to immediately lower the platelet count to safer levels. In this procedure, a special instrument is used to remove blood from the patient, separate and remove the platelets, and then return the other blood cells to the patient.

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