The treatment of anemia in lupus depends on its cause. Inflammation can be reduced with drugs such as prednisone. For iron deficiency, iron given orally, such as ferrous sulfate or ferrous gluconate, is almost always effective. In the case of bleeding, the source should be determined in order to correct the problem. Erythropoietin (hormone that regulates red cell production) or darbepoietin (a synthetic form of erythropoietin) may be given to individuals with kidney problems to stimulate the bone marrow to make more red blood cells. The same may be given to people with lupus with anemia who are taking azathioprine or cyclophosphamide. For hemolysis (breakdown of red blood cells) due to antibodies, prednisone and other drugs are often helpful, but sometimes the best treatment is splenectomy. This is an abdominal surgery to remove the spleen (which may be done laparoscopically, that is, with small incisions in the abdominal wall).
Michael Rosove, MD
Dr. Michael Rosove is a medical oncologist in Los Angeles, California and Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCLA-David Geffen School of Medicine. Read Bio