How is pancytopenia treated?
In very mild cases of pancytopenia, treatment may not be necessary. In moderate cases, blood transfusions may help restore blood cell counts; however, transfusions may become less effective over time. In severe cases, treatments such as bone marrow transplant and stem cell therapy may be required to restore the ability of bone marrow to produce blood cells. Such treatments are generally effective in younger patients, but older patients may also require the use of immunosuppressant drugs or drugs that stimulate the bone marrow.
In cases related to environmental factors, pancytopenia may resolve on its own when the precipitating factor is removed or the underlying condition is treated.
Immunosuppressant medications used to treat pancytopenia
If the immune system is suspected of attacking bone marrow, immunosuppressant drugs may be administered. Examples include:
- Antithymocyte antibodies (Thymoglobulin), which suppress the body’s natural immune response
- Corticosteroids, such as methylprednisolone (Medrol, Solu-Medrol)
- Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)
- Cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral)
Bone marrow–stimulating drugs used to treat pancytopenia
Sometimes, drugs that stimulate bone marrow function are prescribed. Examples include:
- Epoetin alfa (Epogen, Procrit)
- Filgrastim (Neupogen)
- Pegfilgrastim (Neulasta)
- Sargramostim (Leukine, Prokine)
What are the potential complications of pancytopenia?
Left untreated, pancytopenia is extremely serious and can lead to life-threatening bleeding and infections. In younger patients, treatments such as bone marrow transplant and blood transfusion are generally successful at treating pancytopenia, but complications tend to be more severe in the elderly. You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you.
Complications of pancytopenia or its treatment include:
- Bleeding in the brain
- Complications from blood transfusions
- Complications from medications used to treat the condition
- Poor reaction to bone marrow transplant (graft rejection)
- Sepsis (life-threatening bacterial blood infection)
- Severe bleeding
What is pancytopenia?
Pancytopenia is a deficiency of all types of blood cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. It occurs when your body cannot produce enough blood cells because the bone marrow stem cells that form blood cells do not function normally. Pancytopenia has widespread effects on the entire body by leading to oxygen shortage as well as problems with immune function. Apla... Read more about pancytopenia introduction
What are the symptoms of pancytopenia?
Symptoms of pancytopenia include generalized symptoms such as fatigue and weakness, as well as skin symptoms, such as easy bruising or rash. Bleeding, including nosebleeds, bleeding of the gums, unexplained bleeding, or bleeding of the internal organs, is common in pancytopenia.... Read more about pancytopenia symptoms
What causes pancytopenia?
Pancytopenia can be caused by heredity, medications, or exposure to environmental contaminants such as radiation or arsenic. In approximately half of cases, called idiopathic cases, the exact cause of the pancytopenia is not known. It may be linked to an autoimmune disorder, in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues as foreign substances, or an environmental contaminant. In rare cases, pregnancy can lead to autoimmune processes that may trigger pancytopenia.... Read more about pancytopenia causes