Chronic Illness

Chronic illnesses such as cancer, connective tissue disease, and chronic infection are associated with anemia. The anemia has the following characteristics:

• Normochromic, normocytic, occasionally microcytic

• Usually mild, characterized by decreased plasma iron and normal or increased reticuloendothelial iron

• Impaired flow of iron from reticuloendothelial cells to the bone marrow

• Decreased sideroblasts in the bone marrow.

Treatment involves treating the underlying illness. Iron is of little value because the iron is cleared by the reticuloendothelial system.

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