Pancytopenia is a medical condition which features with low number of all blood cells. It actually includes three medical conditions, anemia, leukopenia and thrombocytopenia. Pancytopenia may result due to reduced production of blood cells in bone marrow or it can be cased by rapid destruction of these cells in peripheral blood.
Causes of Pancytopenia
Pancytopenia may occur in certain illnesses. For example, in primary and secondary malignant tumors of the bone marrow this organ cannot function properly and it reflects in reduced production of all three types of blood cells. These tumors include Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, malignant melanoma, neuroblastoma and many more. This medical condition can also affect people who are suffering from certain autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus.
Pancytopenia additionally occurs after chemotherapy. Certain chemotherapeutics are highly toxic and can interfere with normal production of blood cells. The most sensitive cells to chemotherapeutics are leukocytes. However, after chemotherapy even the production of red blood cells as well as platelets can reduce. In some people who have undergone intensive chemotherapy the recovery and re-establishment of normal function of the bone marrow lasts rather long.
Apart from chemotherapeutics some other medication can also induce pancytopenia. This particularly refers to prolonged usage of certain drugs in chronic illnesses. If there is an evident drop in all three types of blood cells doctors tend to discontinue the suspicious medication. The bone marrow will eventually restore its function. Still in some cases prolonged usage of certain medications can result in permanent damage of the bone marrow i.e. its permanent suppression.
In patients who have to undergo radiation therapy of certain malignant tumors and in case that the bone marrow is in the field of radiation it can develop decrease in certain type of blood cells. The radiation oncologists take care of the maximum dose which can be administered to the bone marrow without causing additional side effects or permanent bone marrow suppression. The most affected blood cells by radiation are leukocytes and this treatment modality can in rather rare cases also lead to pancytopenia. Pancytopenia most commonly occurs in patients who had chemotherapy prior the radiation. This way chemotherapy induces the fall in blood count and radiation therapy only contributes to the further drop in number of blood cells.
Pancytopenia can be also caused by acute or chronic exposure to certain poisons and toxic substances. For example, it occurs in low dose arsenic poisoning.
And finally, potential cause also includes insufficient and inadequate diet. Improper intake of nutrients, especially vitamins and minerals can reflect on the blood count.