Frequently Asked Questions About Polycythemia Vera

Can Polycythemia Vera patients fly?

Yes, while PV and sitting for extended periods of time increase one's risk of developing clots, PV patients can still fly given they take proper precaution, such as moving around the cabin every so often. 

Can Polycythemia Vera go into remission?

Yes, some PV patients may achieve complete remission in their disease. Expectations of individual disease and treatment progress should be communicated from your hematologist/oncologist. Note that remission does not mean cured. There is no current cure for PV, and patients in remission could potentially see a recurrence of disease. 

Is Polycythemia Vera hereditary?

Polycythemia Vera is not generally known as a hereditary disease. The vast majority of PV incidence is caused by an acquired change in DNA (mutation) that causes a malignant change in how blood cells are produced. In very rare circumstances, Polycythemia Vera can be hereditary and passed down, but it is not something that will "run in families"

Can Polycythemia Vera kill me?

Yes, when untreated PV can be fatal. Treatment offers the greatest chance of long term survival. 

Is Polycythemia Vera cancer?

Yes, PV is a type of blood cancer in which your bone marrow produces excessive numbers of blood cells, especially Red Blood Cells.

Can Polycythemia Vera patients donate blood?

No, while some treatments may be similar to donating blood, such as therapeutic phlebotomy, the blood can not be transfused to the other person due to the malignant/cancerous Red Blood Cells in PV patient's circulation.

Does Polycythemia Vera cause high blood pressure?

Yes the overproduction of Red Blood Cells can physically prevent Nitric Oxide from working as it should within circulation. Since Nitric Oxide promotes vasodilation, and this a decrease in blood pressure, PV can lead to hypertensive issues.

Can polycythemia Vera turn to leukemia?

Yes, although rare, it is a possibility for PV to progress to acute myelogenous leukemia.

How fast does Polycythemia Vera progress? 

Slowly compared to many other types of cancer. From the onset of diagnosis, it may take years before treatment is required. People with well managed PV can live for decades after initial diagnosis.

Is Polycythemia Vera curable?

No, not at this time. In many patients, PV can be well managed for a long period of time however. 

Is Polycythemia Vera serious?

PV is a blood cancer that without treatment can lead to significant issues, many of which are fatal.