Blood Disorders

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Treatment Options

The treatment of blood disorders depends on the severity of the disease, the patient's age, and the overall health of the patient. In some cases, drugs that can stimulate blood cell production may be used. For instance, low red blood cell and white cell counts can sometimes be treated with growth factors. In other cases, steroids or other drugs that suppress the immune system are used. In more severe cases, chemotherapy may be needed. Others may need intensive radiation and/or chemotherapy, followed with a bone marrow transplant or allogeneic stem cell transplant.

Bleeding disorders may require treatment with blood component therapies such as platelet transfusions or clotting factors. Diseases with thrombosis, on the other hand, may be treated with drugs that inhibit clot formation.

Many myeloproliferative neoplasms (disorders) cannot be cured, but symptoms and complications, such as anemia, can be controlled with treatment.

  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are used to kill extra blood cells in the body.
  • Phlebotomy--taking blood from the body through a needle in a vein--can also be used to lower the amount of blood in the body.
  • Hormones are used to lower the side effects of the disease and to help the red blood cells live longer.
  • If the spleen is swollen, surgery may be required to remove it.

The main treatment for patients with myelodysplastic syndromes is often a transfusion of red blood cells or platelets to control anemia or bleeding. Chemotherapy and biologic therapy are being tested in clinical trials. Bone marrow transplantation using high-doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy is also being investigated. Blood clots are usually treated with anticoagulants or other drugs.

If your condition is one that requires a bone marrow transplant, be sure to visit the Bone Marrow Transplant section.