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Is There Any Research on Pregnancy and Essential Thrombocythemia?

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Published on November 25, 2015

From our Ask the Expert series, MPN expert Dr. Bart Scott from Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center responds to Patient Power community member Amanda’s question, “Is there any research on pregnancy and essential thrombocythemia (ET)? What are my risks?”  Dr. Scott discusses both historical and anecdotal data, including safe treatments.  He cautions patients, however, to be sure to consult an MPN expert both before and during pregnancy.

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Transcript | Is There Any Research on Pregnancy and Essential Thrombocythemia?

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:

Andrew Schorr with Patient Power with another one of our Ask the Expert sessions for MPNs.  With me is Dr. Bart Scott from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.  Dr. Scott, here's a question we got from Amanda in Spokane, Washington, across your state here, “Is there any research on pregnancy and essential thrombocythemia?  I'm wondering what my risks are.” 

Dr. Scott:

Good question.  Pregnancy is an underserved category in many research protocols, and that is because people are worried about the side effects of the unborn child with the drug therapy, so you will find that in many cases pregnant women are excluded from research studies.  So there is very little data regarding the impact of medications during pregnancy itself.  Okay. 

With all of that being said, we have a lot of historical information and anecdotal data, and we know that pregnancy increases the risk of thrombosis, because it's a pro-inflammatory state. And one of the major risk factors and one of the major causes of death in myeloproliferative neoplasm is thrombosis.  And thrombosis, by the way, is clots, so blood clots, and the blood clots can break off and go to the lungs. 

So pregnancy is a time of high risk for patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms, and there are treatments that can be given during pregnancies that are safe, and one of them would be aspirin therapy.  Another would be interferon therapy, so pegylated interferon can be given during pregnancy, and another is phlebotomy.  So if women have a very high hematocrit, they can undergo phlebotomy during pregnancy if needed.  But I would say that if you have a pregnancy with a myeloproliferative neoplasm, that's definitely when you want to involve an expert in the field.  

Andrew Schorr:

All right.  So I have a couple questions.  But you're not saying that a woman with ET should necessarily not try to get pregnant? 

Dr. Scott:

I'm not saying that.  I am not saying that.  I think that if someone wants to get pregnant when they have a diagnosis of ET, it's very important to discuss that with their hematologist, and I also recommend that they see an expert in the field of MPN before they become pregnant so that there can be a plan that's put in place because, as I said, once they become pregnant their risk of clots, blood clots, thrombosis is much higher. 

Andrew Schorr:

Okay.  All right.  Important information, Dr. Scott.   Thank you so much.  If you have a question for us just send it in to mpn@patientpower.info.  I'm Andrew Schorr.  Remember knowledge can be the best medicine of all.  

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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