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What Is Aplastic Anemia?
Aplastic anemia is a medical condition that damages the stem cells in a person’s bone marrow. These cells are responsible for making red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. If your blood count gets low enough, it can be life-threatening.
Each type of blood cell has a different role:
- Red cells carry oxygen around the body.
- White cells fight infections.
- Platelets prevent bleeding.
Aplastic anemia is also called bone marrow failure. It is more likely to happen to people in their late teens and early 20s, and the elderly. If you have this type, there is a higher chance of developing leukemia and other cancers. Treatment for aplastic anemia may include chemotherapy, stem cell transplants, and immunotherapy.
There are two different types:
1) Acquired aplastic anemia:
Acquired aplastic anemia is a rare blood disorder, due to the failure of the bone marrow to produce blood cells. The main causes of Acquired Aplastic Anemia are given below:
- Effects of Environment – Toxic chemicals, Viruses like HIV or Epstein-Barr
- Side effects of past treatment – Radiation or chemotherapy treatment for cancer
2) Inherited aplastic anemia:
This type of anemia as the name suggests is inherited genetically from family members who may have a history of aplastic anemia. It is most common in children and young adults.
What are the Aplastic Anemia Symptoms?
If you have any of the below symptoms, your doctor may do a test called a complete blood count. A biopsy of your bone marrow would be also taken to check for this disorder.
- Easy bruising
- Pale skin
- Problems breathing
These symptoms may be severe. Some people may have heart-related symptoms, such as chest pain.
What are the Treatment Options for Aplastic Anemia?
Doctors usually have two goals when treating aplastic anemia. The first is to reduce the person’s symptoms, and the second is to stimulate the bone marrow to create new blood cells.
Treatment Option 1 – Blood Transfusion – People with aplastic anemia can receive blood and platelet transfusions to correct low blood counts. While there is generally no limit to the number of blood transfusions you can have, complications can sometimes arise with multiple transfusions. Transfused red blood cells contain iron that can accumulate in your body and can damage vital organs if an iron overload is not treated. Medications can help rid your body of excess iron.
Treatment Option 2 – Antibiotics – A doctor may also prescribe antibiotics as a person needs white blood cells to fight infections. Ideally, these drugs will prevent infections until a person can build more new white blood cells.
Treatment Option 3 – Bone marrow stimulants – This will help stimulate the bone marrow to produce new blood cells. Growth factors are often used with immune-suppressing drugs.
Treatment Option 4 – Immunosuppressants – For people who can’t undergo a bone marrow transplant or for those whose aplastic anemia is due to an autoimmune disorder, treatment can involve drugs that alter or suppress the immune system (immunosuppressants).
Treatment Option 5 – Bone Marrow Transplant – BMT is to stimulate new cell growth for the long term and the procedure would be as follows:
- Step 1 – chemotherapy medications could be prescribed to kill off abnormal bone marrow cells that are affecting a person’s overall bone marrow function.
- Step 2 – Healthy stem cells from the donor are filtered from the blood. The healthy stem cells are injected into the bone marrow of the patient’s body. The individual will receive bone marrow from a close family member. The procedure requires a lengthy hospital stay. After the transplant, you’ll receive drugs to help prevent rejection of the donated stem cells. This procedure can sometimes cure aplastic anemia, but it is most successful in younger people, with the donor from a close relative. However, sometimes your body may reject the transplant, leading to life-threatening complications.
Some people cannot tolerate bone marrow transplants, especially older adults, and those having difficulty recovering from chemotherapy. Others may not be able to find a donor that matches their bone marrow. In these instances, a doctor can prescribe immunosuppressive therapy. Immunosuppressive medicines suppress the immune system, which ideally stops it from attacking healthy bone marrow cells.
In case a transplant is not an option for you, your doctor may prescribe medication to try to stop your body from attacking your bone marrow.
What are the Side Effects of Aplastic Anemia Treatment?
- Chemotherapy affects your blood count and it will generally fall within a week of treatment.
- Both chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause changes in your sense of taste and smell. This is usually temporary but in some cases, it lasts up to several months.
- Chemotherapy can cause hair loss and some damage to the lining of your bowel wall. This can lead to cramping, wind, abdominal swelling and diarrhoea.
- Some types of chemotherapy and radiotherapy may cause a temporary or permanent reduction in your fertility.
- Some cancer treatments can affect the normal functioning of the ovaries causing early menopause.
- Sometimes, a person’s body rejects a bone marrow transplant. Doctors call this graft-versus-host disease or GVHD. GVHD can make a person feel extremely ill and can cause injury to the liver, blistering skin, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Recovery After Aplastic Anemia Treatment:
A child’s prognosis with aplastic anemia is dependent on a few factors including the severity of their disease. Currently, a child treated with immunosuppressive treatment has around an 80% chance of responding to treatment and requiring no further treatment options. A child who undergoes a donor transplant from a matched sibling has around a 90% chance of cure.
Living With Aplastic Anemia
If you have this disorder:
- Stay away from contact sports to avoid injuries and bleeding.
- Wash your hands often.
- Avoid crowds as much as you can.
- Check with your doctor before taking a flight or going to a high elevation where there is less oxygen. You may need a blood transfusion first.
What are the Next Steps for Aplastic Anemia Treatment?
- Contact the Treatment Possible team in Mumbai, India either through this website or by calling +91 8928811870 or messaging us via WhatsApp.
- Please send the medical reports to us via email or upload them on this site.
- We shall get back to you with a free opinion from our Hematologists from the best Hematology Hospital for aplastic anemia in India.
- We also inform you about the cost of aplastic anemia and other details related to the duration of hospital stay and overall recovery.
- Once the medical/travel funds are arranged, you can plan your trip to India for the treatment of aplastic anemia based on the itinerary provided by us.
- Once you arrive in India, the Treatment Possible team will provide the necessary services and support including pick-up from the airport, mobile SIM card, hospital scheduling, and accommodation arrangements for the Blood cancer patient and other members of the family.
Bone Marrow Transplant at Treatment Possible:
Treatment Possible is a health consultant company in Mumbai, India that connects patients across the world requiring affordable low-cost health treatment and surgery with the best doctors and hospitals in India.
The Treatment Possible team will ensure that you receive quality treatment from the Hematology Hospital, for aplastic anemia treatment in India at the lowest price. This is possible because of our goodwill and long-standing association with India’s best medical institutions. The cost for aplastic anemia through Treatment Possible can be 10-20% lower than similar companies in India and 50-60% cheaper than in other countries.
Treatment Possible ensures that your aplastic anemia treatment cost is guaranteed to be among the lowest in India. Our deep understanding of the Indian Healthcare market and our valued relations with surgeons of the best hospitals in India enables us to ensure that the cost of your blood cancer treatment is affordable and transparent.
You get a free consultation with a top Hematologist in India with a hassle-free setup for the test, procedures, recovery, travel, and stay.
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Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the survival rate of aplastic anemia?
Based on cancer registry data, the overall five-year survival rate is about 80% for patients younger than age 20 who have a stem cell/bone marrow transplant.
What are the tests to find aplastic anemia?
- Complete blood count (CBC Blood test) – In aplastic anemia all three of these blood cell levels are low.
- Bone marrow biopsy – Confirming a diagnosis of aplastic anemia requires a bone marrow biopsy. A doctor uses a needle to remove a small sample of bone marrow from a large bone in your body, such as your hipbone. The sample is examined under a microscope to rule out other blood-related diseases.
Is Aplastic anemia is cancer?
Aplastic anaemia (AA) is a rare condition in which the bone marrow fails to produce all three major types of blood cell. It is not a form of cancer.
How does stem cell transplant work for Aplastic anemia?
An allogeneic transplant is used for aplastic anemia. This type of transplant uses healthy stem cells donated by someone else. These healthy cells can come from a family member, unrelated donor or umbilical cord blood. First, you get chemotherapy (chemo), with or without radiation, to kill the unhealthy marrow. Then, the healthy cells are given to you through an intravenous (IV) catheter. The new cells travel to the inside of your bones and begin to make healthy blood cells.