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Lab Med. 2014 Spring;45(2):132-5.

Hemolytic anemia and metastatic carcinoma: case report and literature review.


Hemolytic anemia can complicate the development of a variety of solid tumors and hematologic malignancies. Although patients may have an established diagnosis with documented metastases, microangiopathic hemolytic anemia (MAHA) can be a presenting feature of an occult malignancy. Prompt diagnosis is essential because conditions that mimic the symptoms of MAHA, including thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, have different prognoses and therapeutic options. Although the exact pathogenesis is not yet delineated, we present herein a case of cancer-associated MAHA and discuss the known pathways that can contribute to the initiation and propagation of hemolytic anemia in patients with cancer. The patient is a 69-year-old woman with breast carcinoma that had metastasized to her rectum, urinary bladder, and brain. She eventually developed progressive decline in her functional status, with intermittent epistaxis and melena. The results of laboratory studies revealed hemolytic anemia and thrombocytopenia; results of a bone-marrow biopsy confirmed the involvement by metastatic carcinoma. The patient received red blood cell and platelet transfusions and was discharged to hospice care after clinical stabilization. She died soon thereafter.

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