Explore Your ITP Treatment Options
When you’re first diagnosed with ITP, your hematologist’s goal will be giving your platelet levels a quick boost. You may try corticosteroids, usually prednisone, one of the quickest ways to suppress your immune system and improve platelet counts.
Your doctor may also have you try an immunoglobulin to raise your platelet levels or anti-D, a treatment that keeps the spleen busy so it can’t remove as many platelets. These ITP treatments can be powerful, with some people experiencing a jump in platelets in just a few days. But the gains are often temporary.
If the first few treatment strategies you try stop working, you and your hematologist can consider second-line treatments, such as:
- Monoclonal antibodies to reduce the number of B cells (white blood cells that produce antibodies).
- Splenectomy. In some cases, hematologists recommend that people with ITP have their spleen removed, a procedure called a splenectomy. The reason? Without a spleen flushing platelets from your body, your platelet levels will likely rise. Your body will still be able to remove old platelets (through the liver), just not as efficiently. Surgery results in higher platelet counts about 66% of the time and tends to work better and longer in those under age 40.
- Platelet growth factors belong to a new class of medicine and work differently: Instead of focusing on lowering the number of platelets destroyed, these drugs actually stimulate platelet production.
- Chemotherapy is best known for treating cancer, but its powerful ability to suppress the immune system can also benefit people with ITP.
If you’ve been through a lot of ITP treatments already, you may be feeling discouraged about trying yet another. But given the variety of ITP treatment options available now, it’s worth working closely with your hematologist to find the one that helps you.