The common treatments recommended for extending the life expectancy of polycythemia patients include phlebotomy, chemotherapy and medications, such as interferon and anegrelide, reports MedlinePlus. The aim of treatment is usually to inhibit blood thickness and prevent clotting. Some patients may be prescribed aspirin to prevent blood clotting, but it poses the risk of bleeding in the stomach.
Failure to seek treatment can lead to death within two years of contracting this condition. Treatment can help a patient live for up to 15 to 20 years, as stated by Merck Manuals. It does not cure polycythemia but it helps to reduce different complications, such as clotting and bleeding.
In phlebotomy, at least one unit of blood is removed from the body every week with the aim of reducing the red blood cells. This procedure might lead to an increase in the number of platelets, so a chemotherapy drug called hydroxyurea is used to reduce the count of platelets. Other drugs that can be used to lower the number of platelets include anegrelide and interferon.
Patients above the age of 70 might be give interactive phosphorous, but this is done carefully as it poses a risk of causing leukemia, according to Merck Manuals. Ultraviolet-B light and antihistamines can be used some patients to prevent itching.