Protein Electrophoresis Lab Test for Anemia

Patient

Q: I was told I am anemic by my doctor. She has ordered a repeat CBC as well as a check for B12 and ferritin...I understand what that is for. Is it normal for a serum protein electrophoresis to be ordered as well? Type 2 diabetic...no protein in urine.

Doctor

A:   Anemia is one of the more common diagnosis in young women.  When a doctor receives a lab test indicating anemia and the medical history is unremarkable, iron supplementation is often suggested to the patient without investigating further.  This is because the most common cause (>90%) of anemia in young women is due to iron deficiency.
After a trial of iron supplementation, lab tests are often repeated to ensure abnormal values have returned to their normal range.  On follow up testing, other causes of anemia may also be tested for such as vitamin B deficiency and thalassemia.
Thalassemia can be detected by protein electrophoresis.  It is a genetic condition that results in anemai but usually does not require treatment with iron.  It is prevalent in certain ethnic groups.
I hope this helps.

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