Monitoring MPNs: Is It Good Practice to Have Fewer Appointments and Blood Tests?

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Topics include: Understanding and Living Well

In this “Ask the Expert” segment featuring Dr. Naval Daver from MD Anderson Cancer Center, Peter from the United Kingdom asks about the frequency of offices visits. His nurse recently changed his appointments to every 12 weeks from 8 weeks, and he wants to know if this a good practice. Dr. Daver explains the reasoning behind reducing the frequency of appointments and blood tests related to stability of one’s disease. He also advises patients to talk to their physician if they are uncomfortable with fewer visits. 

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Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Andrew Schorr:

Peter sent us this email from the United Kingdom. He writes, “I am a 66-year-old male diagnosed with ET in November of 2013.  I have been taking hydroxycarbamide (Hydrea®), and my platelet count has dropped to 370.  Now my nurse has changed my appointments to 12 weeks from 8 weeks. Is this a good practice? I would be happier with more blood tests not less.”

Dr. Daver:

I think once the patient has achieved a steady state and most hematologists who are relatively experienced and see few of these patients, it is reasonably okay to reduce the frequency of blood counts.

We usually do this in a slow taper. So maybe we’ll go down to once a month and then maybe once every two months or six months and then maybe once every three months for the next six months. And I actually have some patients who have now even gone to every six months or every year follow-up if they have been stable for the first one-and-a-half, two years.

So I think if the patient has not required transfusions, there have been no evidences of blood clots in the last one year and there have no admissions required in the last one year, it should be reasonable to start going down. But if the patient is uncomfortable, then it is reasonable to bring this up with the hematologist for that specific case and get a clear understanding of why the hematologist thinks it would be okay to increase the interval.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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Page last updated on May 13, 2015