Aplastic anaemia treatment

How is aplastic anaemia treated?

The treatment for aplastic anaemia depends on several factors including the cause of the disease (if this can be identified), its severity, the person’s age and the general health of the patient. Your specialist will discuss treatment options with you. Sometimes a patient will end up undergoing different treatment options if their response to the first type of treatment is not positive.

Types of treatment

Immunosuppressants
Immunosuppressants are drugs that affect the function of the immune system. For most patients, immunosuppression will be the initial treatment of choice. Treatment is aimed at suppressing the destruction of blood stem cells that occurs in aplastic anaemia. This type of treatment can weaken your general immune system and make you more susceptible to infections while undergoing the treatment. It is important to realise that with this treatment, signs of recovery may not appear before six weeks into the treatment and often will take a lot longer. The aim of this treatment is to reduce, and ideally eliminate, the need for transfusions and restore protection from infections.

Stem cell transplant
An allogeneic (donor) stem cell transplant may be recommended as a curative option for younger people.

Supportive therapies
Supportive therapies are also important. Blood transfusions are often required to replace circulating blood cells while antibiotics may be used to treat infections. Patients undergoing supportive therapies need regular monitoring to detect any change in their condition.

Relapse

People with aplastic anaemia may show residual damage in their bone marrow following treatment despite normal blood counts. Unfortunately some patients who are successfully treated for aplastic anaemia relapse with their disease. Generally the relapse of aplastic anaemia is not the result of re-exposure to the original trigger of the disease. Relapse can occur as a result of pregnancy or when the immune system is heavily challenged.

A child’s prognosis with aplastic anaemia is dependent on a few factors including the severity of their disease. Currently a child treated with immunosuppressive treatment has around an 80 percent 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 percent chance at cure.

Your doctor or your child’s treating doctor will discuss with you treatment options in the occurrence of relapse.

Side effects of treatment

» More about the side effects of aplastic anaemia treatment

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