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Polycythaemia vera (PV) is one of the myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) where the blood produces more red blood cells than normal.
Polycythaemia vera (PV) is one of a group of diseases called the myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). MPNs affect the way blood cells are produced in the body. People with PV produce more red blood cells than normal. PV may also affect the production of your other blood cells, for example your body may also produce too many platelets and white blood cells. PV is a rare condition and primarily affects middle-aged and elderly people
Most people who have a high red blood cell count, do not have PV. For example, smokers often have a high red cell count but do not have PV. PV is usually associated with a mutation (change) in the JAK2 gene and around 19 out of 20 people have this gene mutation. This gene controls production of a protein that is part of the mechanism which regulates the number of blood cells produced by the bone marrow. The mutation is not passed on from parent to child and it is very unusual, although not unknown, for more than one person in a family to develop PV.
Last reviewed: December 2015
Next planned review: December 2018