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Semin Hematol. 2000 Apr;37(2 Suppl 4):3-10.

Current issues with platelet transfusion in patients with cancer.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55455-0374, USA.


For the past 30 years, platelet transfusions have been used in the treatment of thrombocytopenia caused by decreased production, inadequate function, or increased destruction of platelets. The number of platelet transfusions has increased more than transfusions of other blood components, shifting from whole blood use for the platelet source to plateletpheresis. Hematology/oncology patients are among the largest group receiving platelet transfusions, primarily because the more aggressive chemotherapies produce more acute and prolonged thrombocytopenia. While platelet transfusions often rescue patients with very low platelet levels, they are associated with the risk of viral and bacterial infections, as well as alloimmunization. Platelet donor recruitment can also be difficult, and platelet transfusion can be very expensive depending on the source of platelets. As a result, prophylactic transfusions are less likely to be administered at higher platelet counts, reducing platelet use and cost of platelet transfusions. However, cancer patients receiving intensive chemotherapy or myeloablative regimens require multiple platelet transfusions. For these patients, alternate strategies are needed so that platelet transfusions can be significantly reduced or eliminated.

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