It is the decrease in the number of platelets in the blood.
Thrombocytopenia can occur as a result of a variety of medical conditions, including diseases of the immune system, infections, vitamin deficiencies, and hereditary diseases. Small variations below the standards may be normal and do not necessarily reflect the presence of a disease.
In addition, thrombocytopenia can be a side effect of certain medications, including some drugs used to treat cancer.
Thrombocytopenia usually causes no symptoms and is diagnosed only on blood tests. Symptoms, when present, may include the appearance of purple spots on the body, and bleeding from the gums and nasal mucosa.
In some cases of chemotherapy-induced thrombocytopenia, a reduction in the dose of chemotherapy may be enough to reverse the thrombocytopenia. In other cases, temporary discontinuation of treatment may be necessary. There are now drugs that can prevent and treat thrombocytopenia by stimulating the production of platelets. These drugs are known as hematopoietic growth factors.
Treatment of thrombocytopenia occasionally may include transfusion of platelets.