Anaemic ! Could it be You ?

sickle cell anemia

Anaemia is very common medical condition, where the body does not produce enough healthy red blood cells or excessively destructs blood cells.
Most people have anaemia due to poor dietary habits and inadequate nutrition while certain forms of anaemia are hereditary.
Some of the early warning signs , which are common across all 400 types of anaemia are:

anemia symptoms
Early warning sign and symptoms that may appear in anemia

Fatigue : The most common warning sign of anaemia is fatigue. It occurs because the body doesn’t have enough Red Blood Cells to carry haemoglobin which contains oxygen to the cells leading to exhaustion.

Pale Skin : Paleness of the skin is usually dependent on the thickness and density of blood vessels below the skin. A lack of red blood cells due to anaemia

A very pale pallor can also be due to sickle cell anaemia ( a medical condition where abnormally shaped red blood cells block the flow of blood).

Swollen or Sore tongue : A big warning sign of anaemia is an anaemia tongue wherein ones tongue gets inflamed due to low iron levels in the body. The surface of the tongue can often smoothen out or your tongue can morph into different shades.

Swollen Hands and feet : Swollen hands and feet are a symptom of sickle cell anaemia. In sickle cell anaemia, the sickle shaped red blood cells clump together and block the flow of blood in the body – leading to the blood flow being cut off from the tissues and organs.

Shortness of breath : This occurs because the red blood cells carrying oxygen have less haemoglobin and less capacity to bind oxygen causing shortness of breath.

Brittle nails : Nails have a protective hard layer called keratin that protects the soft tissue in your nails. Lack of red blood cell production due to anaemia prohibits the growth of nails. Ridges and banding in the nails are often indicators of anaemia.

Appetite for inedible items : Pica is defined as a craving to chew or eat substances of no nutritional value such as ice, paper, chalk, pencils, wall putty etc. These unusual cravings in order to satiate the body’s appetite for iron must not be ignored as it is the first sign of anaemia.

Sickle cell anaemia is a very severe form of anaemia and is often inherited. Although those suffering from anaemia and sickle cell disease suffer from fatigue, pale pallor, shortness of breath, people suffering from just anemia rarely suffer from frequent chest infections or have painful crisis

Sicklers or people suffering from sickle cell anaemia, often have painful crisis situations, when the haemoglobin can even drop to between 1 and 3 leading to even death within few hours.

Sickles often suffer from organ damage and  may need a hip replacement . a shoulder replacement or rarely even a knee replacement.

Although Sickle cell anaemia can be managed with hydroxy urea, if the patients has reached a point where he or she suffers from chest infections, frequent painful crisis, or needs a hip replacement or shoulder replacement, a bone marrow transplant should be considered.

A bone marrow transplant, with matching donors has more than an 85% success rate and is the only possible cure and treatment for sickle cell anaemia.

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Sickle Cell Anemia

sickel cell anemia,bone marrow transplantSickle Cell Disease (SCD) is the most common inherited disorder of haemoglobin worldwide and  affects nearly 100,000 people in the United States and is rampant in Africa

Every pregnancy carries 25% risk when both partners carry a sickle cell gene

Diagnosing Sickle Cell Anemia

HPLC or High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) is the standard tests for diagnosing Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). The test separates different forms of proteins in a column and can detect mutant forms of hemoglobin.

What is  the treatment for sickle cell anemia?

Treatment choices for sickle cell anemia are the drug hydroxyurea and chronic red blood cell transfusions. These treatments may lessen the complications of sickle cell disease, but they do not cure the disease.

Bone Marrow Transplant is the only cure for sickle cell anemia treatment at this time. Transplants from matched related donors offer about an 85 percent chance of cure.

All sickle cell anemia patients do not need a  bone marrow transplant. However the younger the patient, the higher the chances of cure after a bone marrow transplant.

With age as organ damage increases, chances of a successful transplant decrease.

Indications for a transplant are

  • Frequent Pain
  • Stroke
  • Acute Chest Syndrome which means the patient suffers from pneumonia, frequent chest infections
  • Splenic  Sequestration which causes sudden and severe anemia, paleness, and the haemoglobin may actually drop to as low as 1-3g/dl   which may even result in shock and death within a few hours of onset.

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Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) Symptoms, Treatment

Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) usually develops from cells that would turn into white blood cells (other than lymphocytes). With acute types of leukemia such as AML, bone marrow cells don’t mature the way they’re supposed to. These WBC, often called blast cells, just keep multiplying and post metastasis affect kidney, ovaries, liver and other organs

Signs and Symptoms of AML:

The symptoms of AML include fatigue, fever, loss of appetite or weight, night sweats, Dizziness, feeling cold, light-headedness, headaches, shortness of breath, recurring infections and fevers, bruising for no clear reason, frequent or severe nosebleeds, bleeding gums, unusual bleeding, such as from minor cuts, bone or joint pain, a full or swollen belly from leukemia cells in the liver or , swollen spleen,  skin rashes , lumps on the body, swollen, painful, bleeding gums, headache, trouble with balance, vomiting, seizures, or blurred vision, enlarged lymph nodes such as in the neck or groin, under arms, or above the collarbone (rare).

Treatment of AML:

Treatment for AML includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplant and/or immunotherapy with chemotherapy being the most common.

Tomorrow we will cover: Lymphoma Types

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is cancer of blood in children. It develops in bone marrow particularly, the spongy internal part of bones where new blood is made and spreads to the bloodstream.

Mutation in white blood cells which causes them to multiply uncontrollably is the main cause of Leukemia.

ALL is the most common cancer in kids, accounting for 25% of all cancers in children under the age of 15. The amount of time between the onset of symptoms and the cancer diagnosis does not change the chances for cure.

Signs and Symptoms of ALL:

Symptoms of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia includes:

  1. Fatigue and anemia ( due to decrease in  number of red blood cells)
  2. Fever and neutropenia (decreased number of healthy white blood cells)
  3. Thrombocytopenia (decreased platelets)
  4. Bone pain
  5. Enlarged lymph nodes
  6. Weight loss.

Treatment of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia:

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia is mainly treated with long-term use of chemotherapy with intensive chemo regimens. Consolidation treatment may also need to stop reoccurrence of cancer, therefore consolidated therapy includes, more chemotherapies, a donor transplant and a transplant with patient’s own blood stem cells (that’s is very rare).

Tomorrow we will cover: Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)

Understanding Blood Cancer and its Treatment Options


leukemia, cell proliferation

Blood Cancer:

Blood cancer originates from bone marrow and interferes with production and functioning of blood cells which are responsible for production of blood.  Stem cells therefore fail to mature into white, red blood cells and platelets through abnormal cancerous cells production hence the blood cannot fight infections or prevent excessive bleeding.

Types of Blood Cancer:

There exists three major types of blood cancer namely:

A) Leukemia:  Leukemia results from production of abnormal white blood cells in large numbers which cannot fight infections thus incapacitating bone marrow in the production or red blood cells and platelets. The main Leukemia’s are Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML),  Myelodysplastic syndrome(MDS)

B) Myeloma: Myeloma cells prevents normal production of antibodies by the plasma cells which fight infections therefore weakening a person’s immune system.

C)Non Hodgkin Lymphoma: In Non Hodgkin Lymphoma or NHL as it is called the lymphatic system generates immune cells after removal of excess body fluids .The cancerous lymphoma cells which are abnormal lymphocytes impair the immune system by collecting in lymph nodes and in body tissues.

Blood Cancer Treatment:

The blood cancer treatment options are chemotherapy to get the disease in remission followed by an bone marrow transplant.

The 2 types of Bone Marrow Transplants are :-

  1.  Autologous stem cell transplantation

In an autologous transplant, the patient is then exposed to chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells present in their body system . Once the discease is n remission, the stem cells are collected and stored in extremely cold conditions or rather frozen.

This exposure may greatly incapacitate the stem cells from carrying out their duty of producing blood therefore the previously frozen stem cells are reintroduced to produce blood.

2. Allogenic stem cell transplantation

Unlike in Autologous stem cell transplantation, in allogenic transplant , stem cells from a donor are introduced into the blood cancer patient’s body after a suitable match is identified.

On receiving the donor stem cells , the host’ immune cells detects the blood cancer cells as foreign and attacks them through an immune response. The Allogenic treatment option has it’s shortcoming of the recipient’s body rejecting the donor stem cells.

The introduced stem cells growing on the patient’s immune system can attack the normal organs like skin,lungs and liver leading to malfunctions . In case the malfunctions occur, immuno suppresants are administered to the patient to mitigate the effects.

Early detection and intervention of blood cancer makes treatment easier and the chances of being cured are high. Regular check ups  help.

Though still considered deadly, Leukemia is now curable provided detection and quality care and treatment can be offered in time.

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