Diagnosis and treatment of macrocytic anemias in adults.J Gen Fam Med 2017; 18(5):200-204JG
Anemia is one of the most common health problems in the primary care setting. Macrocytosis in adults is defined as a red blood cell (RBC) mean corpuscular volume (MCV) >100 femtoliter (fL). Macrocytic anemias are generally classified into megaloblastic or nonmegaloblastic anemia. Megaloblastic anemia is caused by deficiency or impaired utilization of vitamin B12 and/or folate, whereas nonmegaloblastic macrocytic anemia is caused by various diseases such as myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), liver dysfunction, alcoholism, hypothyroidism, certain drugs, and by less commonly inherited disorders of DNA synthesis. Macrocytic anemias are treated with cause-specific therapies, and it is crucial to differentiate nonmegaloblastic from megaloblastic anemia. Because MDS and myeloid neoplasms commonly affect the elderly, primary care physicians may encounter more cases of macrocytic anemias in the near future, as the older population increases. When MDS is suspected along with leukocytopenia and/or thrombocytopenia with anemia, a hematology consultation may be appropriate.