University Cancer & Blood Center

Immune Thrombocytopenia

Overview:

Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) is a blood disorder that can lead to easy or excessive bruising and bleeding. The bleeding results from unusually low levels of platelets — the cells that help blood clot. Having fewer platelets can cause easy bruising, bleeding gums, and internal bleeding. ITP is caused by an immune reaction against your own platelets. This means that your body’s immune system attacks your platelets by mistake. The two forms of ITP are acute thrombocytopenic purpura and chronic thrombocytopenic purpura. Because platelets help stop bleeding, ITP symptoms are linked to increased bleeding. However, symptoms vary depending on the individual. Symptoms can include bruising or purple areas on the skin, nosebleeds, bleeding of the mouth, heavy menstrual periods, tiny red dots under the skin (small bleeds), blood in vomit or stool, and blain bleeding (the most dangerous symptom of ITP).

Treatment:

Treatment for immune thrombocytopenia will vary based on symptoms, age, and severity. Treatment can include:

  • Steroids
  • Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG)
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Rh immune globulin
  • Medicine changes
  • Surgery to remove the spleen
  • Platelet transfusion
  • Treating infection
  • Rituximab
  • Romiplostim and eltrombopag

To learn more about immune thrombocytopenia, click here.

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 QCCA The Cancer FoundationNCI

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