Cancer-Related Microangiopathic Hemolytic Anemia: Clinical and Laboratory Features in 168 Reported Cases

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Cancer-related microangiopathic hemolytic anemia (CR-MAHA) is a paraneoplastic syndrome characterized by Coombs-negative hemolytic anemia with schistocytes and thrombocytopenia. We reviewed and analyzed all cases of CR-MAHA reported since 1979 (the time of the last published review on this topic) according to predefined criteria. We found 154 cases associated with solid cancer and 14 with lymphoma. Among the solid cancers, gastric, breast, prostate, lung, and cancer of unknown primary (CUP) were most common; 91.8% of cancers were metastatic, and in 19.4% of solid cancers CR-MAHA did not occur until recurrence of cancer. Lymphoma cases included Hodgkin disease, angiotropic lymphoma, diffuse large cell lymphoma, and myeloma. Evaluation of the clinical and laboratory findings revealed that only a minority of cases presented with the features of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) or atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS), with the exception of prostate cancer, where aHUS was a common presentation. Compared to hereditary or immune TTP or aHUS, disseminated intravascular coagulation and pulmonary symptoms were more common in CR-MAHA. Plasma exchange or fresh frozen plasma was rarely effective except in prostate cancer patients with aHUS. CR-MAHA responded to antitumor therapy in many patients with gastric, breast, lung, and CUP cancers. These patients had a superior survival compared to patients without chemotherapy. Compared to the prognosis of patients with metastatic cancer without CR-MAHA, the prognosis of CR-MAHA patients was greatly inferior. There is evidence that some cases of CR-MAHA in lymphoma are immune mediated.

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