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Patient-focused outcomes following detection in a hospital-based screening programme for C282Y haemochromatosis

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Abstract Background: 

Haemochromatosis is a common genetic disease in populations of a northern European origin. However, there is uncertainty as to whether it is a condition that should be screened for. Aims: 

To determine the proportion of persons, in a public hospital setting, who were homozygous for the C282Y mutation for hereditary haemochromatosis and the proportion of these persons who would benefit from therapeutic phlebotomy. Methods: 

All persons who had blood submitted for pathology testing, had total iron-binding capacity and iron measured and transferrin saturation calculated, and where this result exceeded 40%, genotyping for the C282Y mutation was carried out. Results: 

Of 18 779 patients screened, 887 (5.4%) were found to have transferrin saturation greater than 40%. Thirty-five of these were homozygous for the C282Y mutation. Fourteen were previously known to be affected and six of these were non-compliant with venesection. Venesection was commenced in 5 of the 21 newly diagnosed subjects. Conclusions: 

The proportion of detected subjects who commenced venesection was significant. Results suggest that clinical penetrance is higher in Australia than other countries and that even in the environment of a large tertiary teaching hospital, phenotypic screening identifies cases of hereditary haemochromatosis, which are likely to benefit from treatment.

Keywords: HFE; haemochromatosis; iron overload; population screening

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Chemical Pathology 2: Immunology, Princess Alexandra Hospital,

Publication date: August 1, 2008

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