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Haematologica. 2008 Nov;93(11):1645-51. doi: 10.3324/haematol.13346. Epub 2008 Sep 11.

Prognostic factors for thrombosis, myelofibrosis, and leukemia in essential thrombocythemia: a study of 605 patients.

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  • 1M.D., Division of Hematology, University of Pavia, Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, viale Golgi 19, 27100 Pavia, Italy.



Essential thrombocythemia is a chronic myeloproliferative disorder; patients with this disorder have a propensity to develop thrombosis, myelofibrosis, and leukemia.


We studied 605 patients with essential thrombocythemia (follow-up 4596 person-years) with the aim of defining prognostic factors for thrombosis, myelofibrosis, and leukemia during follow-up.


Sixty-six patients (11%) developed thrombosis with a 10-year risk of 14%. Age >60 years (p<0.001) and a history of thrombosis (p=0.03) were independent risk factors for thrombosis. Progression to myelofibrosis occurred in 17 patients (2.8%) with a 10-year risk of 3.9%. Anemia at diagnosis of essential thrombocythemia was significantly correlated (p<0.001) with progression to myelofibrosis. Leukemia occurred in 14 patients (2.3%) at a median time of 11 years after the diagnosis of essential thrombocythemia; the risk was 2.6% at 10 years. Age >60 years (p=0.02) was significantly correlated with the development of leukemia. Cytotoxic treatment did not imply a higher risk of leukemia. At the time of the analysis, 64 of the 605 patients (10.6%) had died. The 10-year probability of survival was 88%, with a median survival of 22.3 years. Age >60 years (p<0.001) and history of thrombosis (p=0.001) were independent risk factors for survival.


The findings from this study on a large series of patients treated according to current clinical practice provide reassurance that essential thrombocythemia is an indolent disorder and affected patients have a long survival. The main risk is thrombosis, while myelofibrosis and leukemia are rare and late complications.

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