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Secondary aplastic anemia
Alternative namesAnemia - secondary aplastic; Acquired aplastic anemia
Secondary aplastic anemia is a failure of the bone marrow to form enough blood cells. All blood cell types are affected.
Causes, incidence, and risk factorsSecondary aplastic anemia results from injury to stem cells. Normal stem cells divide and differentiate into all blood cell types. Thus, when stem cells are injured, there is a reduction in red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
This condition can be caused by chemotherapy, drug therapy to suppress the immune system, radiation therapy, toxins such as benzene or arsenic, drugs, pregnancy, and congenital disorders. When the cause is unknown, it is then referred to as idiopathic aplastic anemia .
The disease may be acute or chronic and is usually gets worse unless the cause is removed.
Signs and tests
In secondary aplastic anemia, removal of the causative agent is critical, and in some cases can lead to recovery.
Mild cases of aplastic anemia may be treated with supportive care or may require no treatment. Blood transfusions and platelet transfusions will help correct the abnormal blood counts and relieve some symptoms, in moderate cases.
ATG is a horse serum that contains antibodies against human T cells, and it is used in an attempt to suppress the body's immune system, allowing the bone marrow to resume its blood-cell generating function. Other medications to suppress the immune system may be used, such as cyclosporine and Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide). Corticosteroids and androgens have also been used.
Expectations (prognosis)Untreated aplastic anemia is an illness that leads to rapid death. Bone marrow transplantation has been successful in young people with a long-term survival rate of 80%. Older people have a survival rate of 40 to 70%.
Calling your health care providerCall your health care provider if bleeding occurs for no reason.
PreventionThis may be an unavoidable consequence of treatments such as chemotherapy. Avoid toxins such as benzene or arsenic if possible.
Update Date: 5/6/2003Ezra E. W. Cohen, M.D., Section of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT