What is aplastic anemia? It is a non-cancerous disease that occurs when a person’s bone marrow no longer creates enough blood cells. Red and white blood cells, along with platelets, are created by the bone marrow, which is the soft tissues that reside within the bones of the body. It is believed that aplastic anemia is an autoimmune disorder because the new cells seem to be attacked by the current cells. This limits the amount of new cells that can be created.
Facts About Aplastic Anemia
1. In 50% of the known cases of aplastic anemia, the cause of the disease is unknown. In rare cases, aplastic anemia can be hereditary.
2. Studies have shown that contact with certain toxins such as benzene and radiation, to viruses such as hepatitis, and to some medications can cause this disease.
3. The most population demographic who is most at risk for developing aplastic anemia is women who are pregnant.
4. Aplastic anemia occurs mostly in young adults between the ages of 15-25 and in people over the age of 60.
5. Being of Asian decent makes someone 3x more likely to develop this disease at some point in their life.
6. There are between 300-600 new cases of aplastic anemia in the United States each year.
7. The overall five-year survival rate is about 80% for patients younger than age 20 who have a stem cell or bone marrow transplant.
8. Up to 90% of those who are diagnosed with this disease will get better.
9. 5-10% of severe acquired cases of aplastic anemia are preceded by seronegative hepatitis.
10. 50% of patients with aplastic anaemia have small PNH clones.
11. The 2-year mortality rate with supportive care alone for patients with severe or very severe aplastic anemia is about 80%.
12. 1,068. That’s the number of people who are expected to die from this disease in the United States in the next 12 months.
13. About 32,000 people are hospitalized every year because of complications that are experienced because of aplastic anemia.
14. 33% of those with this disease to not respond to immunosuppression therapies.
15. Pregnant women with aplastic anemia have a 33% risk of relapse.
16. Even with severe or very severe aplastic anemia, the 15 year survival rate has been shown to be as high as 51%.
17. In Asia, the incidence rate of aplastic anemia can be as high as 7.9 per 1 million.
18. Aplastic anemia is 3x more common is Asia than it is in Europe.
19. This disease affects men at the same rates that it affects women.
20. Although just 3% of the cases of aplastic anemia in Asia are attributed to drug therapies, up to 27% of the cases in Western countries are believed to be caused by medication.
21. At the age of 45, the survival rates for aplastic anemia begin to lower compared to those who are diagnosed at younger ages.
22. From 1980 to 1990, researchers were able to raise survival rates by up to 20% in some demographics.
Aplastic anemia can happen to anyone of any age, race, ethnicity, or gender. Common symptoms of this disease are fatigue, a shortness of breath, dizziness, and bleeding from the nose, mouth or rectum. People will also bruise easily when this disease is present, have pinpoint red spots on their skin, and suffer from frequent infections. Because these symptoms are similar to other diseases, however, it is important to speak with your doctor if you are concerned about aplasatic anemia.
Why Is Aplastic Anemia So Problematic?
Many people who develop this disease think their symptoms are just a cold or the flu and they can’t seem to get rid of it. This tends to prevent people from getting the early treatment that they need for an increased chance of a complete recovery. Despite the delays, however, between 70-90% of people have a successful outcome.
Being aware of aplastic anemia is the first step to solving this non-cancerous disease of the bone marrow. From stem cell therapies to blood transfusions, there are some non-invasive treatment options available that don’t include bone marrow transplants. Age is a definite factor in recovery, however, as the 60+ age demographic does not see the same results from transplants and cell therapies as those who are younger.
If you have an illness that is prolonged and it makes you feel exhausted all day, even if you are sleeping at night, then schedule an appointment with your doctor. Although the facts prove that aplastic anemia is rare, it is also better to be safe than sorry.