Friday, December 2, 2011

Aplastic Anemia and MDS Awareness Week


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By Diane Forrest, RN

Aplastic anemia is a disease of the bone marrow. It happens when the bone marrow stops making enough red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets for the body. Any blood cells the marrow does make are normal, but there are not enough of them. Aplastic anemia can be moderate, severe or very severe. People with severe or very severe aplastic anemia are at risk for life-threatening infections or bleeding.

Although aplastic anemia can appear at any age, in any race or gender, it is diagnosed more often in children and young adults. It is also more likely to strike Asian-Americans. Each year, between 600 and 900 people in the U.S. learn that they have aplastic anemia.

Aplastic anemia is caused by:
  • Toxins, such as pesticides, arsenic, and benzene;
  • Radiation and chemotherapy used to treat cancer;
  • Treatments for other autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis; and
  • Pregnancy - sometimes, this aplastic anemia improves on its own after the woman gives birth.


Symptoms include tiredness, increase infections and bruising.  To determine if you have Aplastic anemia a blood test is needed.  Treatment includes transfusions, medications or a bone marrow transplant.

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MDS is a group of disorders where your bone marrow does not work well, and the blood-forming stem cells in your bone marrow fail to make enough healthy blood cells. People with MDS can lack the right amount of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets (the small cells that help blood to clot).

The disease happens because the bone marrow cells do not develop into mature blood cells. Instead, these blood cells stay within the bone marrow in an immature state. The symptoms and the course of MDS may vary greatly from person to person. These differences depend on which blood cells are affected.  Causes include:
  • Been a smoker;
  • Been heavily exposed to certain chemicals, such as benzene; and
  • Had chemotherapy or radiation treatments   Symptoms and treatment are the same as with Aplastic Anemia.


This is Aplastic Anemia and MDS Awareness Week.  For more information click here: http://www.aamds.org/

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