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Splenectomy for breast carcinoma diffusely metastatic to the spleen presenting as severe transfusion-dependent anaemia and thrombocytopaenia


We report a 48-year-old woman with metastatic infiltrating lobular carcinoma of the breast. Though her metastatic disease remained stable, she was repeatedly admitted for symptomatic anaemia and treated by red blood cell and platelet transfusions with increasing frequency as time elapsed. Abdominal examination and ultrasound revealed splenomegaly (27 cm span). A bone marrow biopsy showed fibrosis and foci of metastatic carcinoma. Splenectomy ameliorated her transfusion-dependent anaemia and thrombocytopaenia. Histopathology revealed multiple foci of metastatic carcinoma and scattered foci of extramedullary haematopoiesis. Differential diagnosis of anaemia and thrombocytopaenia in patients with cancer include bone morrow involvement by cancer cells, iron-deficiency anaemia, microangiopathies and chemotherapy suppression of haematopoiesis. Splenic involvement with cancer is common in patients with multivisceral disease. Many may regard transfusion-dependent severe anaemia and thrombocytopaenia as an end-stage disease in these patients. Nevertheless, palliative splenectomy should be considered in patients with possible hypersplenism who will otherwise survive for a relatively prolonged period of time.

  • breast cancer
  • palliative care
  • surgical oncology

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