Aplastic Anemia

The bone marrow is the place where blood cells mature.  If the bone marrow is damaged, it can shut down. This bone marrow failure is called aplastic anemia.

What Causes Aplastic Anemia?

The most common cause of aplastic anemia is an autoimmune disorder where the body recognizes its own self as foreign and attacks it.  Other causes include infection with parvovirus, radiation exposure, toxins, and chemotherapy drugs.  The bone marrow failure leads to too few red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

What Are Symptoms Of Aplastic Anemia?

Common symptoms are weakness, fatigue, paleness, infections and easy bruising.

How Is Aplastic Anemia Diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made by sampling the bone marrow (bone marrow aspiration and biopsy).  The bone marrow shows a sharp decrease in the number of stem cells.  Stem cells are the cells that red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are made from.

How Is Aplastic Anemia Treated?

Prompt treatment of aplastic anemia is essential.  Transfusions with red blood cells and platelets may be necessary to temporarily increase the number of cells.  Bone marrow transplant can cure aplastic anemia in younger people.  Older adults and those without a suitable bone marrow match are often treated with steroids and other medications to suppress the immune system.