Objective To report our cumulative experience from a dedicated iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) clinic over the last 15 years—with particular emphasis on referral rate, uptake of investigation, impact on endoscopy services, diagnostic yield of gastrointestinal (GI) investigation and the issue of recurrent IDA.
Method A series of analyses of a register of 2808 referrals to the Poole IDA clinic between 2004 and 2018.
Results The study population of 2808 had a sex ratio of 1.9 (female/male ratio) and a median age of 72 years (IQR: 60–79). A rising referral rate over the study period appears to be plateauing at around 2 cases per 1000 population per annum. On the basis of a snapshot audit, investigation of IDA may now account for over 20% of all diagnostic endoscopies.
Overall, 86% of cases underwent examination of the upper and lower GI tract. Significant GI pathology was identified in 27% of the investigated cohort. Adenocarcinoma of the upper or lower GI tract was found in 8.3%, the majority in the right colon. The prevalence of recurrent IDA was estimated at 12.4%, and the results of investigation of this subgroup are reported.
Conclusion Unexplained IDA is common, particularly in those over 60 years, and may be the first indication of underlying GI malignancy in over 8% of cases. Unresolved challenges include accommodating the resulting endoscopy workload, establishing a risk/benefit ratio for investigating those with major comorbidities and the management of recurrent IDA.
- iron deficiency
- gastrointestinal cancer
Data availability statement
Data are available on reasonable request. Available on request from corresponding author.
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Contributors The study was devised by EJW, LA and JS; data collection was by CJ, CS and SLS; and the report was written by HS, OA and JS. All authors approved the final draft, and the guarantor is JS.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.