In the patient presenting with an elevated blood count who does not have an acquired clonal disorder causing a myeloproliferative neoplasm, hereditary erythrocytosis or hereditary thrombocytosis needs to be considered as a possible explanation. A young patient and/or those with a family history of myeloproliferative neoplasm should specifically raise this possibility. Among the causes of hereditary erythrocytosis are mutations in the genes in the oxygen sensing pathway and high-affinity hemoglobins. Hereditary thrombocytosis has been shown to be accounted for by mutations in THPO, MPL, and JAK2 genes. In those who have a possible hereditary erythrocytosis or thrombocytosis, the investigative pathway includes specific investigation to rule out the more common acquired clonal disorders, and, if indicated, other secondary causes, measurement of specific cytokines as indicated, and search for specific identified molecular lesions that have been shown to cause these hereditary disorders. There remain individuals who appear to have a hereditary disorder in whom a genetic lesion cannot currently be identified.
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