Fulminant Plasmapheresis-refractory Thrombotic Microangiopathy Associated With Advanced Gastric Cancer


Dr Radovan Vasko, Department of Nephrology and Rheumatology, Georg-August-University Goettingen, Robert-Koch-Street 40, 37075 Goettingen, Germany. Email: rvasko@inbox.com


We report a case of a 27-year-old female with thrombotic microangiopathy as an initial presentation of an unexpected disseminated gastric carcinoma. Based on clinical features and laboratory findings, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) was diagnosed and plasma exchange started. However, she had responded poorly to plasmapheresis, developed multiorgan failure and died 72 h after admission. Autopsy revealed a disseminated gastric adenocarcinoma with metastatic infiltration of dura mater and disseminated tumor cell emboli in the microcirculation of the liver and lungs. Genetic analysis revealed amplification of KRAS oncogene and aberrations in DCC tumor suppressor gene, which can explain the young age and advanced disease at presentation. The role of plasmapheresis in cancer-associated TTP is uncertain. Plasmapheresis delivers fresh coagulation factors and may theoretically promote microthrombi formation and lead to worsening of the disease. Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura seems to be a late and prognostically poor manifestation of an underlying malignancy, with majority of patients dying soon after diagnosis. It is important to be aware of this possibility in thrombotic microangiopathy, especially with atypical features and poor response to standard treatment.