Patients with polycythemia vera who have known hydroxyurea use, known phlebotomy, or splenomegaly have significant polycythemia vera-associated symptoms, a new study published online ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has shown.1

Recent evidence has demonstrated the efficacy of JAK inhibitor therapy, like ruxolitinib, in patients with polycythemia vera who have a history of the aforementioned features.

Because polycythemia vera, a myeloproliferative neoplasm, is associated with disabling symptoms and an increased risk of life-threatening complications, researchers sought to determine how prior hydroxyurea use, phlebotomy requirements, and palpable splenomegaly contribute alone and in combination to the symptom burden of the disease.

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For the study, researchers prospectively evaluated 1334 patients with polycythemia vera who had characterized symptom burden. Results showed that the presence of each feature was associated with a moderately high symptom burden. Researchers found that the association persisted despite the patient’s polycythemia vera risk category.

RELATED: Ruxolitinib Superior to Standard Therapy for Polycythemia Vera

The study also demonstrated that symptoms incrementally increased in severity with additional features. Patients who had all 3 features had the highest symptom burden but had similar individual symptom burden compared with patients with known hydroxyurea use, known phlebotomy, and splenomegaly.

The findings demonstrated “that many [polycythemia vera] symptoms remain severe independent of the number of features present,” the authors concluded.


  1. Geyer H, Scherber R, Kosiorek H, et al. Symptomatic profiles of patients with polycythemia vera: implications of inadequately controlled disease [published online ahead of print November 23, 2015]. J Clin Oncol. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2015.62.9337.