[ Englisch] What Blood Tests Are Done to Identify Inflammation in Polycythemia Vera?

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Dr. Susan Leclair speaks on blood tests which identify inflammation in polycythemia vera (PV) and comes to the conclusion that there aren’t enough advances in inflammation research to render conclusive data. It wasn’t until the 1950s that doctors understood inflammation as a disease process, and consequently the trajectory of research may take another decade. Dr. Leclair discusses existing blood tests such as the sed rate and  C-reactive protein tests which can identify an acute phenomenon and chronic inflammation but don’t address the questions of why, how and where the origins of inflammation began. Leclair explains that doctors are now incorporating variables of inflammation in their thought process during diagnosis. 

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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. 

Tamara Lobban-Jones:

Our question comes from Mary.  What blood tests are done to identify inflammation in polycythemia vera, PV, and what effect does this inflammation have on a person and their disease? 

Dr. Leclair:

Okay.  Just—just because, that was inflammation or inflammation, okay.  Let's start off with the fact that we have pretty lousy tests for inflammation.  We really didn't even think of inflammation as a disease process until maybe the 1950s or so, and the only test that we had then was the erythrocyte sedimentation rate, or the sed rate, or the ESR, and that only tells you if you've got it, but it doesn't tell where or why or any of that stuff.  So that's helpful as a screening test, but it's not wonderful. 

The second one is C?reactive protein and that one is a—like the sed rate it only tells you, yes, you've got it, but unlike the sed rate it tells you that it's an acute phenomenon, that you only have this inflammation for a little while.  The sed rate tends to be more reflective of chronic inflammation.  Those are the typical, routine, available almost anywhere kind of inflammatory tests that we have, so we're not very good at this. 

There are some research and some—and some sensitive tests that you can do.  You can do, for example, complement, is a whole series of compounds that are in your body that reflect inflammation, so you can—you can quantify, complement, but again it doesn't tell you where or why. 

There are tests on—on inflammatory triggers that you have, interleukins, interferons.  Those too are expensive and send out tests, but again it begs the question of why do you have this inflammation? What is going on, and where is it?  So the bottom line is we don't do this very well. 

We try—and I think most physicians have in the back of their head the issue that any disease has a certain level of inflammatory response to it, and even though they may not be testing for it they're probably working that through in their thought process because it's there.  Give me—give us another maybe five to 10 years, you'll have better tests out there, but right now we don't have anything really good. 

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 August 5, 2015