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What is the cause for pancytopaenia?

Q: My grandmother is 84 years old and suffers from pancytopaenia. A bone marrow test and blood analysis was conducted. The doctor has only advised for some tablets and syrups and has given a note to the local doctor stating that this patient may be given blood transfusion if her Hb goes below 6. I am not familiar with these medical terms. The following information was also available in the note – WBC – 2180, platelet – 21,000, Hb - 7.7. What does this mean and is there a cure for this? Is this some kind of cancer? Is it treatable? She complains of skin burns, itching and pain all over the body, especially on the face. She also feels very tired lately. Please advise.

A:Your mother has pancytopaenia - meaning that all the three cell lines viz., Haemoglobin (Hb), Total leucocyte count (TLC) and platelets are not being produced. One reason for this could be poor dietary habits. This can be confirmed by doing serum iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 levels. If these are found low, then suitable supplements of these vitamins should be given If these are normal, then the second common diagnosis at this age is myelodysplastic syndrome. This is also confirmed by bone marrow test. This is pre-cancerous condition. Cancer may develop in about 20% cases after many years. However, if anaemia is predominant and bone marrow test is favourable, then injection erythropoietin should be given.

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