What are current treatments for sickle-cell disease?




The table below presents the commonly employed current treatments for comparison purposes and to help families to ask informed questions of their physicians.  This is not medical advice for particular patients or situations, but instead a description of the various treatment options.

Treatment Purpose  Other Effects  Cost and Duration
Antibiotics, such as penicillin Control secondary infections  Bowel disorders.  Risk of antibiotic resistent strains developing, if schedule not followed carefully.  Inexpensive, long term.
Painkillers, such as Paracetamol, acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and narcotics Alleviate pain. Risk of kidney damage from actaminophen.  Risk of narcotic addiction.  Varies.
Blood transfusion Prevent organ damage and alleviate pain  Long-term iron overload may occur. Crisis treatment.
Bone-marrow transplant  Cures sickle cell formation.  The procedure creates the risk of infection.  The transplanted tissue may be rejected.  Expensive, requires compatible donor who may be very difficult to find.
Diet modification, such as additional folic acid.  Reduce sickling of red blood cells. Seek advice from a physician.  Dangerous side effects sometimes occur.  Ongoing.
Chemotherapy, such as hydroxyurea  Lessen crisis frequency.  Potential increased anemia.  Potentially carcinogenic. Expensive daily dosage