Is Aplastic Anemia A Cancer? Diagnosis & Treatment

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People hear about any life-threatening disease, and they immediately relate it to cancer. This can be the reason many people ask: is aplastic anemia cancer? Well, if you also want clearance on this, then you should know that aplastic anemia is a condition of blood disorder and not a cancer. Also, it is a very rare condition, but people who suffer from this live a very difficult life, and many are not even able to manage it.

I cannot feel the pain, but I can understand the situation because one of my relatives has suffered from anemia cancer. At first, when we knew about this, we got scared and didn’t know what to do and what would happen. However, we got lucky because my uncle (the patient’s brother) donated his stem cells and saved his brother. Many people are not able to find a donor in this condition because stem cells should nearly match with the patient’s.

Aplastic Anemia Life Expectancy With Treatment

Is Aplastic Anemia A Cancer

Aplastic anemia happens when your body doesn’t make enough new blood cells. Your bone marrow is responsible for making new blood cells, and when it fails to do so, you can suffer from aplastic anemia. Also, when it happens, it can lead you to a higher risk of bleeding and infections.

Moreover, many people have a misconception about this disease, and they often ask: is aplastic anemia cancer? Thus, you should know that it is not a cancer. However, if you don’t treat this condition on time, then it can increase the risk of cancer.

Causes Of Aplastic Anemia

The main reason for aplastic anemia is when our immune system, the body’s defense system, mistakenly attacks the stem cells in the bone marrow. Also, other things can hurt the bone marrow and affect blood cell production, including some cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy

Moreover, if you expose yourself to harmful chemicals like those found in some pesticides and insecticides, then it can lead you to aplastic anemia. Additionally, some medications, such as those used for rheumatoid arthritis and certain antibiotics, can also lead to aplastic anemia. Furthermore, autoimmune disorders and viral infections like hepatitis, Epstein-Barr, and HIV can increase the risk of aplastic anemia.

Symptoms Of Aplastic Anemia

Aplastic anemia can be very serious and even life-threatening for some people. Therefore, it is important to contact a doctor when you notice the symptoms of aplastic anemia. However, someone may be suffering from this condition without feeling any symptoms. 

Also, many people experience the symptoms, which include feeling very tired, having trouble breathing, a fast or irregular heart rate, pale skin, and getting frequent infections. Additionally, when you experience nosebleeds, bleeding gums, long-lasting bleeding from cuts, fever, and headaches, you should consult with a doctor because these are also the symptoms of aplastic anemia.

Survival Rate Of Aplastic Anemia

Aplastic anemia is a rare and serious disease, but thanks to treatments like immunosuppressive therapy and stem cell transplantation, the chances of surviving for five years have gotten better, which is around 70-80% for certain groups of patients.

According to a study conducted in Sweden, younger patients (below 39 years) had a really good 5-year survival rate of over 90%. However, the older patients ( around 60 years) didn’t do well and had a 38.1% survival rate, according to that study.

Diagnosis Of Aplastic Anemia

Your doctor may decide how to diagnose aplastic anemia because it can be done through physical examinations and various tests.

However, you should know that it can include a complete blood count (CBC) with differential, which measures all five types of white blood cells, and a peripheral blood smear, where pathologists examine blood cells and platelets under a microscope. Additionally, bone marrow aspiration and biopsy are performed to obtain bone marrow tissue for microscopic examination.

Aplastic Anemia Treatment

When you want to treat anemia treatment, you have to treat other underlying health conditions first. After that, your doctor will decide what treatment can be the best for your specific condition. However, doctors use four methods to treat aplastic anemia: blood transfusion, stem cell transplant, immunosuppressive therapy, and medicines.

Blood transfusion can temporarily relieve symptoms by increasing the number of red blood cells or platelets in the blood. Additionally, stem cell transplant can be the potential cure for aplastic anemia, and its procedure involves using healthy stem cells from a donor to replace damaged stem cells.

However, the donor’s cells must closely match the patient’s cells to get this treatment. Also, immunosuppressants, like antithymocyte globulin and cyclosporine, are administered to slow or stop damage to the bone marrow. Moreover, doctors can prescribe medications to combat bacterial, fungal, or viral infections in cases of low white blood cell count.

Bottom Line

Aplastic anemia is a serious health condition but very rare. Also, some people confuse it with cancer, which is not true, but some treatments for cancer, like radiation and chemotherapy, can increase the risk of aplastic anemia. Above, I have explained everything about aplastic anemia in detail, including its causes, symptoms, survival rate, diagnosis, and treatment.

Thus, if you or someone you know is suffering from this condition, then use this knowledge to help. Also, when you notice the symptoms of aplastic anemia, contact a doctor immediately because early treatments can save your condition from getting worse.

FAQs

Q1. Is aplastic anemia curable?

Aplastic anemia can be treated with a bone marrow transplant or stem-cell transplant, but the donor's cells should match the patient’s.

Q2. Is aplastic anemia hereditary?

Yes, aplastic anemia can be inherited, but other causes, like autoimmune disorders, can also be the reason.

Q3. How long can you survive with aplastic anemia?

Aplastic anemia has very high death rates, but those who get proper treatments can live a normal life.

Q4. Does aplastic anemia turn into cancer?

No, aplastic anemia does not turn into cancer, but it can certainly increase the risk of cancer.

Q5. What is the peak age for aplastic anemia?

People can suffer from aplastic anemia at any age, but the peak age in young adults can be 25-30 years old, and in the elderly, it can be 60 years.

References

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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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