Essential thrombocythemia (ET) is often detected during a routine blood test before an individual has any symptoms.
When ET signs and symptoms appear, however, they can be serious. One of the first signs of ET may be the development of a blood clot (thrombus). See your doctor if you're troubled by any of the following:
- Chest pain
- An enlarged spleen
- Burning or throbbing pain in the feet, sometimes worsened by heat or by exercise or when your legs are hanging down for long periods. The skin on your legs and feet may have a patchy reddish color. This condition is called erythromelalgia and is caused by reduced blood flow (microcirculation) to the feet and toes.
An enlarged spleen, which may cause discomfort, a feeling of fullness or a "dragging" feeling on the upper left side of your stomach. Your doctor may detect an enlarged spleen during a physical examination or ultrasound imaging. About half of all ET patients have an enlarged spleen.
If a blood clot occurs in the arteries that supply blood to the brain, it may cause a temporary loss of blood flow to part of the brain. This serious condition is called a transient ischemic attack (TIA). Signs and symptoms of a TIA include:
- Weakness or numbness on one side of the body,
- Blurred or double vision
- Slurred speech
- Unexpected or exaggerated bleeding. Abnormal bleeding is uncommon and usually occurs only when platelet counts are very high. This can include easy bruising, nosebleeds, gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding, bloody stools or blood in the urine
In a small subset of patients, ET may cause bleeding. This may occur in patients with an extremely high platelet count. Signs and symptoms of bleeding may include:
- Easy bruising
- Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding
- Bloody stools
- Blood in the urine
In advanced cases of ET, additional symptoms may be present. These include:
- Weight loss
- Low-grade fevers
- Night sweats
- Download or order The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s free booklet, Myeloproliferative Neoplasms.