Acute leukemia in sickle cell disease patients in a tertiary health facility in Nigeria: a case series
Background and objectives: Sickle cell disease(SCD) is a disorder of red cells resulting from the co-inheritance of hae- moglobin S (HbS) with another abnormal haemoglobin. The diagnosis of acute leukaemia is uncommon in our patients with sickle cell disease more so the patients have high morbidity and mortality due to the sickling process.Acute leukemia is a malignant clonal disorder of haemopoietic precursor cells resulting in accumulation of immature blood cells in the bone marrow and blood.The objective of the case series was to highlight the challenges of diagnosis and management of SCD patients with acute leukaemia, the importance of peripheral blood film review and propound a possible risk factor.
Methods: Records of 58 patients diagnosed and managed for acute leukaemia over a 7 year period at the University College Hospital, Ibadan were reviewed. The diagnosis of acute leukaemia was based on clinical features in addition to peripheral and bone marrow smears findings. Microsoft excel version 2013 was used for statistical analysis.
Results: Five (8.6%) of the patients with acute leukaemia also had sickle cell disease: 3 males and 2 females were described. Recurrent fever and anaemia were the most consistent presenting features in the patients. All the patients were not on any routine medications meant for SCD patients and had poor history of clinic attendance prior to the diagnosis of acute leu- kaemia. The diagnosis of acute leukaemia was not made until the patients were seen by a haematologist. The principal tool of diagnosis in all the patients was peripheral blood film review. Two patients were discharged against medical advice.The treatment period ranged between one month and one year in the remaining three patients.
Conclusion: SCD patients are not exempted from developing acute leukaemias and the diagnoses of the two conditions overwhelms the social and economic support of patients and care givers.The study also underscores the relevance of high level of suspicion and prompt review of peripheral blood film of SCD patients particularly when patients present with un- remitting symptoms associated with anaemia and fever.
Keywords: Acute leukaemia; sickle cell disease; anaemia.
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