Medical Professionals FAQ

Pernicious Anaemia is a complicated illness so we’ve put together some Frequently Asked Questions for you to help you and your patients find out more. Please have a look as well on our Healthcare Professional’s information page.

Are the current markers used to investigate Pernicious Anaemia reliable ?

No – In a study of 70 consecutive patients with pernicious anaemia only 45 (64%) had very low cobalamin levels (i.e. under 100pg/ml). Anaemia was absent in 13 (19%) and macrocytosis was absent in 23 (33%)

Are there any problems with the current test to determine B12 status in patients with suspected deficiency ?

The competitive-binding luminescence assay (CBLA) has replaced microbiologic and radioisotope-dilution assays in the past decade. A recent report showed that the current test produces false normal results in 26%, 22% and 35% of the serum samples tested

How effective is the current test to diagnose Pernicious Anaemia – the Anti-Intrinsic Factor Antibody ?

There are serious flaws with the current anti intrinsic factor antibody test.

A negative intrinsic-factor antibody test does not exclude the diagnosis of pernicious anaemia as only 60% of patients with pernicious anaemia will have the antibody. This shows that a diagnosis based solely on the intrinsic factor antibody test for pernicious anaemia is unreliable.

Once a patient receives replacement therapy injections to correct any cobalamin deficiency patients make a complete recovery don’t they ?

No – some patients continue to experience all or some of the symptoms of B12 deficiency even after replacement therapy treatment have been given.

Nobody is able to explain this or the fact that some patients will have extremely low serum B12 status and yet experience none of the symptoms associated with B12 deficiency. More importantly some patients will need more frequent replacement therapy injections than others – though nobody is able to explain why this is so.

What evidence is there that there are serious problems with the way in which B12 deficiency is being diagnosed ?

Two recent papers show that the current test used to determine B12 status in patients is flawed.

See the paper in the library – Problems with Diagnosing and Treating Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Pernicious Anaemia – the paper is fully referenced.

What is the problem with the current treatment regime used to treat Pernicious Anaemia ?

It has become obvious to the society that the current one size fits all treatment of an injection of 1mg/ml Hydroxocobalamin does not suit all of our members.

Some members manage perfectly well on an injection every three months, but a great many more need more frequent injections. If their doctor refuses then patients will source alternative treatment including purchasing injections from internet pharmacies. 10% of our members use Methylcobalamin which isn’t licensed in the UK or North America.

What is the society doing about this ?

We have raised these problems with the Department of Health in the UK and have conducted a survey of members which has now been analysed and summarised by medical professionals.

We are also working with clinical researchers to explain how these problems can be solved.

What is wrong with the current test to determine whether the patient’s deficiency is due to Pernicious Anaemia ?

Well, the Schilling test is no longer available and the current anti-intrinsic factor antibody test is also seriously flawed and missing over a quarter of people who have Pernicious Anaemia.

Why does the society believe there are problems with the way in which B12 deficiency is diagnosed ?

Because our members suffer for many years before being accurately diagnosed.

Around 14% of our members waited over ten years for a diagnosis. Around 20% waited over two years – and that’s a long time when you are ill.

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