Pancytopenia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

April 30, 2024

Pancytopenia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Share the article


Low levels of platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells in the blood are referred to medically as pancytopenia. Doctors measure it using a blood test. Pancytopenia is not an illness, but rather a laboratory indication. When a person develops Pancytopenia, it indicates that an underlying illness is to blame. Pancytopenia can be brought on by any conditions that produce fewer blood cells or destroy more blood cells.

Table of Contents

  1. What is Pancytopenia?
  2. Symptoms of Pancytopenia
  3. Causes of Pancytopenia
  4. Treatment
  5. Conclusion
  6. Frequently asked questions

What is Pancytopenia?

Pancytopenia can be a result of an excessive lack of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Each of these blood cell types performs a distinct function within the body:

  • White blood cells are a component of our immune system and aid in the defence against infections. 
  • Red blood cells transport oxygen throughout your body.
  • Platelets play an important role in the formation of blood clots.

Three distinct blood disorders are combined in people with pancytopenia:

  • Anaemia, a low red blood cell count
  • Low white blood cell counts, or leukopenia
  • Low levels of platelets, or thrombocytopenia

Our body requires all of these blood cells, thus pancytopenia can be extremely dangerous. If treatment is not received, it may become life-threatening. 

Symptoms of Pancytopenia

Mild pancytopenia can have no symptoms at all. But depending on which type of blood cell is most impacted, pancytopenia may cause diverse symptoms in those who do experience symptoms or more severe cases.

  • ANAEMIA: As we know red blood cells help in transporting oxygen so an individual with anaemia, or low red blood cell counts, may feel: 
  1. Exhaustion or weariness
  2. Pain in the chest
  3. Breathlessness
  • THROMBOCYTOPENIA: When someone bleeds, platelets assist in forming a blood clot. Thrombocytopenia is the term for a low platelet count; symptoms might include easy bleeding after an accident, bruising, and trouble stopping the bleeding.
  • LEUKOPENIA: White blood cells are useful in the fight against infection. An individual with leukopenia, or a low white blood cell count, is more susceptible to infections. Serious infections may be present in people with low amounts of neutrophils, a particular kind of white blood cell.

Other signs and symptoms of pancytopenia include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Elevated spleen  
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness
  • Exhaustion
  • Rashes 
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Ulcers
  • Paler skin than usual
  • Weakening

In addition, the following symptoms, which can appear abruptly, require emergency medical attention:

  • Profound blood loss
  • Convulsions
  • Breathlessness

Causes of Pancytopenia

A person with pancytopenia experiences a reduction in all three blood cell types. This occurs when the bone marrow, which is where blood cells are made, is malfunctioning.

Pancytopenia can be caused by a variety of reasons.

  • Illnesses like lupus, cancer, or problems with the bone marrow
  • Infections
  • Adverse effects of medication
  • Environmental pollutants such as arsenic, benzene, or radiation
  • Radiation therapy or chemotherapy
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Blood diseases in the family history

Pancytopenia is a dangerous condition that shouldn’t be disregarded. Life-threatening symptoms like oxygen deprivation and immune system issues can develop if treatment is not received.


The doctor will determine the underlying illness that led to pancytopenia and will decide the further line of treatment. Certain medications will be recommended to suppress the body’s immunological response if the immune system is compromised.

Additional therapies for pancytopenia consist of:

  • Medications: These induce the generation of red blood cells within the bone marrow.
  • Blood transfusion: This procedure replaces platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells. 
  • Antibiotics: To treat any kind of infection.
  • Stem cell transplant: In a stem cell transplant, often known as a bone marrow transplant, diseased bone marrow is replaced with healthy stem cells that promote bone marrow regeneration. 


Pancytopenia is a disorder caused by a disorder in the bone marrow that results in low numbers of red, white, and platelet blood cells. It is not considered a sickness. All blood cells are produced and matured in the bone marrow to some extent. Nutritional deficits, autoimmune illnesses, some infections, etc. are the causes of pancytopenia. 

Among the symptoms include exhaustion, unconsciousness, and dyspnea. A complete blood count, among other methods, can be used to diagnose pancytopenia. Removing the cause of it or taking care of the underlying illness are the two possible treatments. Blood transfusion is advised in the event of a significant reduction in blood cells, and antibiotics can be used to treat infections.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it possible to prevent pancytopenia?

Certain causes of pancytopenia, like genetic bone marrow disorders and malignancy, are unavoidable. By practising proper hygiene and avoiding sick people, you can perhaps prevent a few diseases. Chemicals that are known to cause this illness should also be avoided.

2. When should I go get help right away?

Medical help is advisable when experiencing the symptoms listed below:

  • Cold or feverish
  • Dizziness
  • Blood in stools or urine
  • Elevated heartbeat

3. How can pancytopenia be diagnosed?

An elaborate description of the symptoms with the healthcare provider is necessary to diagnose the underlying cause of pancytopenia. Any one of the following listed below might be necessary:Blood tests, bone marrow biopsy

4. Can pancytopenia be fatal?

Depending on what is generating your low levels, pancytopenia can be fatal. If you have pancytopenia, your healthcare professional will investigate the source and severity of the condition.

Disclaimer: We recommend consulting a Doctor before taking any action based on the above shared information.


Chat with us!
Chat with us