The ITP Treatment Journey
If you’re just starting out on your ITP treatment journey, the uncertainty that comes with an ITP diagnosis can be understandably stressful. “How long do I have to be on therapy? Can I be cured? What happens if this doesn’t work?”
In order to relieve some of that stress from uncertainty, let’s take a step back and look at a typical treatment journey.
How do I decide on a treatment?
Some of your doctor’s main priorities are to make sure your platelet counts stay above a healthy level and reduce the risk of uncontrolled bleeding.
In addition to platelet control, what else might be important to you in a treatment? You may have other priorities and should discuss them with your doctor.
Treatment Priorities With Chronic ITP
Acute vs Persistent vs Chronic
If it has been less than 3 months since your diagnosis, your condition is considered acute.
If it has been between 3 and 12 months since your diagnosis, your condition is considered persistent.
And, if it has been more than 12 months since your diagnosis and the first treatment you received did not help you achieve remission, you are considered to have chronic ITP.
With chronic ITP, even though the goals of treatment are the same, your priorities about the way treatment fits into your life may be different.
Playing an active role in your treatment decisions
In acute ITP, doctors start with a more aggressive treatment (corticosteroids) based on the possibility of achieving long-term remission. However, these treatments often come with side effects like weight gain, sleep and mood issues, stomach irritation, high blood sugar, effects on mental health, and other issues.
Since these treatments are used short term (several weeks) in the hope of achieving remission, their side effects may be more acceptable to your doctor. But when it comes to longer-term treatments, the impacts on your day-to-day life should be considered when choosing the best treatment for you.
The latest update to the American Society of Hematology (ASH) ITP guidelines encourages you and your doctor to work together when it comes to making decisions about your treatment. This is a key factor to managing ITP successfully. Similarly, the International Consensus Report (ICR) on the management of ITP says that your treatment goals should be specific to you and the phase of your condition.
It’s natural to want to leave all of the decisions about your treatment in your doctor’s hands. After all, they’re the expert here. But if you want to be sure you're receiving the treatment that works best for you and fits your lifestyle, the experts say you should start the conversation with your doctor and provide your input.