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Fatigue and AnemiaFatigue and Anemia
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Feb 13, 2002

Dear Dr., Is there such a thing as an inability to absorb a particular enzyme in people of Polish extraction? I've been diagnosed with anemia and a friend told me about the time she was diagnosed with this "Polish" abnormality. Her doctor gave her an enzyme pill and it cured her. Her anemia appeared after having two miscarriages, but Iron and B-12 shots were not working. Further investigation led to the enzyme theory. I've been diagnosed with anemia and the meds aren't working. I'm 63, (and Polish, of course) and have been healthy all my life. My health has been steadily failing since I vacationed in AZ, NM, Texas last May. I returned home with a persistent cough was diagnosed with phneumonia in Dec. and anemia in Jan. On 2/1/02 a CAT Scan shows a mass in the lower lobe of the lung and my doctor suspects lung cancer...I've never smoked in my life! I have upcoming tests, PET Scan, needle biopsy and colonoscopy. I still continue to lose weight! Please help! Chuck (63 and retired)

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hey Chuck,

Polish anemia? No, I wouldn't waste time or energy searching for enzymes or trying any enzyme pills. You have a major health problem to deal with - the mass in the lower lobe of your lung. Your anemia could be related to this. The extensive workup is warranted and should give you a firm diagnosis. With your symptoms of persistent cough, weight loss, anemia, and the lung mass, I can assure you an enzyme is not the problem. There are a variety of lung tumors or infections that can occur even if you never smoked. Anemia is very common with cancer and cancer treatments. Similar to HIV, studies have found that Procrit, a medication that stimulates the bone marrow to make new red blood cells is very effective in treating cancer-related anemia. You'll, of course, also need treatment for whatever the mass turns out to be.

The important thing now, Chuck, is to stay focused on your health and don't get distracted by wild theories or claims. I know how frightening and confusing this can be for you. Work with your doctor. He will probably refer you to a specialist as soon as a diagnosis is made. The road may be a bit rocky for a while, but hang in there, keep your positive attitude, and remain convinced that things will get better.

Good luck, Chuck!

Dr. Bob

Dear dr. pizan,need to clarify my question.

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