Clinical and hematological presentation of children and adolescents with polycythemia vera

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Polycythemia vera (PV) in children and adolescents is very rare. Data on clinical and laboratory evaluations as well as on treatment modalities are sparse. Here, we report the long-term clinical course of a PV patient first diagnosed more than 40 years ago at age 12. In addition, after a systematic review of the scientific medical literature, clinical and hematological data of 35 patients (19 female and 17 male) from 25 previous reports are summarized. Three patients developed PV following antecedent hematological malignancies. Budd-Chiari syndrome was diagnosed in seven patients indicating a particular risk of young patients of developing this disorder. One patient presented with ischemic stroke, one patient with gangrene, and three patients with severe hemorrhage. Three patients died from disease-related complications. Hematocrit levels and platelet counts were not correlated with disease severity. Leukocytosis >15 × 109/L was present in 9/35 patients and associated with a thromboembolic or hemorrhagic complication in seven patients. The few available data on molecular genetics and endogenous erythroid colony growth indicate changes comparable to those detectable in adult patients. Treatment varied enormously. It included aspirin, phlebotomy, hydroxycarbamide, busulfan, melphalan, pyrimethamine, and interferon-alpha. Two patients successfully underwent stem cell transplantation. Currently, it is impossible to treat an individual pediatric PV patient with an evidence-based regimen.

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