Information for Patients
Aplastic anemia is a rare but serious blood disorder. If you have it, your bone marrow doesn't make enough new blood cells. There are different types, including Fanconi anemia. Causes include
- Toxic substances, such as pesticides, arsenic, and benzene
- Radiation therapy and chemotherapy for cancer
- Certain medicines
- Infections such as hepatitis, Epstein-Barr virus, or HIV
- Autoimmune disorders
- Certain inherited conditions
In many people, the cause is unknown.
Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and shortness of breath. It can cause heart problems such as an irregular heartbeat, an enlarged heart, and heart failure. You may also have frequent infections and bleeding.
Your doctor will diagnose aplastic anemia based on your medical and family histories, a physical exam, and test results. Once your doctor knows the cause and severity of the condition, he or she can create a treatment plan for you. Treatments include blood transfusions, blood and marrow stem cell transplants, and medicines.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Fanconi anemia Fanconi anemia is a condition that affects many parts of the body. People with this condition may have bone marrow failure, physical abnormalities, organ defects, and an increased risk of certain cancers.The major function of bone marrow is to produce new blood cells. These include red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the body's tissues; white blood cells, which fight infections; and platelets, which are necessary for normal blood clotting. Approximately 90 percent of people with Fanconi anemia have impaired bone marrow function that leads to a decrease in the production of all blood cells (aplastic anemia). Affected individuals experience extreme tiredness (fatigue) due to low numbers of red blood cells (anemia), frequent infections due to low numbers of white blood cells (neutropenia), and clotting problems due to low numbers of platelets (thrombocytopenia). People with Fanconi anemia may also develop myelodysplastic syndrome, a condition in which immature blood cells fail to develop normally.More than half of people with Fanconi anemia have physical abnormalities. These abnormalities can involve irregular skin coloring such as unusually light-colored skin (hypopigmentation) or café-au-lait spots, which are flat patches on the skin that are darker than the surrounding area. Other possible symptoms of Fanconi anemia include malformed thumbs or forearms and other skeletal problems including short stature; malformed or absent kidneys and other defects of the urinary tract; gastrointestinal abnormalities; heart defects; eye abnormalities such as small or abnormally shaped eyes; and malformed ears and hearing loss. People with this condition may have abnormal genitalia or malformations of the reproductive system. As a result, most affected males and about half of affected females cannot have biological children (are infertile). Additional signs and symptoms can include abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system), including increased fluid in the center of the brain (hydrocephalus) or an unusually small head size (microcephaly).Individuals with Fanconi anemia have an increased risk of developing a cancer of blood-forming cells in the bone marrow called acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or tumors of the head, neck, skin, gastrointestinal system, or genital tract. The likelihood of developing one of these cancers in people with Fanconi anemia is between 10 and 30 percent.