In honour of the upcoming Blood Cancer Awareness Month of September, GlobalData epidemiologists have highlighted a lesser-known blood cancer, polycythaemia vera (PV). PV is a rare, incurable disease that predominantly affects men and is most commonly diagnosed in individuals aged older than 60 years. GlobalData epidemiologists have highlighted forecast estimates for diagnosed prevalent cases of PV in the six major pharmaceutical markets (6MM, namely the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and UK) and provided a detailed look into the disease background and risk factors of PV.

According to GlobalData epidemiologists, there were almost 171,000 diagnosed prevalent cases of PV in 2019 in the 6MM combined, which is expected to increase to more than 173,000 cases in 2023 (as shown in Figure 1). PV prevalence varies worldwide, but current information on country-specific PV prevalence estimates is limited. This is largely due to incomprehensive cancer registries, limited research on PV epidemiology and the lack of routine collection of PV cases by health registries.

This chronic condition is characterised by the overproduction of red blood cells in the bone marrow. The abnormally high levels of red blood cells in the bloodstream cause the blood to thicken and increase in volume, making circulation through small vessels and vital organs difficult. Risk factors include age and gender, and as PV can result in blood clots, it is vital to take precautionary measures such as smoking cessation, stress reduction and healthy eating to decrease the chances of serious PV complications.

In addition, according to research published by Petruk and Mathias in Advances in Therapy, 97% of PV patients have a mutation in the Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) gene. The exact cause of this mutation, however, is unknown. The risk of resulting PV complications increases with age; they commonly include thrombotic and haemorrhagic events that contribute significantly to patient morbidity and mortality. In rare cases, PV can progress to acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

GlobalData is set to release an updated PV forecast for 2020–2030, including disease incidence and prevalence in the sixteen major markets (16MM, namely the 6MM plus Japan, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and South Korea). Advocates and supporters can join the movement to raise awareness for PV and other blood cancers on social media using the hashtag #FightBloodCancer throughout September.