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Hemoglobin C disease

Clinical hemoglobin C


Hemoglobin C disease is a blood disorder passed down through families. It leads to a type of anemia, which occurs when red blood cells break down earlier than normal.



Hemoglobin C is an abnormal type of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. It is a type of hemoglobinopathy. The disease is caused by a problem with a gene called beta globin.

The disease most often occurs in African Americans. You are more likely to have hemoglobin C disease if someone in your family has had it.




Most people do not have symptoms. In some cases, jaundice may occur. Some people may develop gallstones that need to be treated.


Exams and Tests


A physical exam may show an enlarged spleen.

Tests that may be done include:

  • Complete blood count
  • Hemoglobin electrophoresis
  • Peripheral blood smear
  • Blood hemoglobin




Usually, no treatment is needed. Folic acid supplements may help your body produce normal red blood cells and improve the symptoms of the anemia.


Outlook (Prognosis)


People with hemoglobin C disease can expect to lead a normal life.


Possible Complications


Complications include anemia, gallbladder disease, and enlargement of the spleen.


When to Contact a Medical Professional


Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of hemoglobin C disease.




You may want to seek genetic counseling if you are at high risk for the condition and are considering having a baby.




Steinberg MH. Sickle cell disease and associated hemoglobinopathies. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 166.

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          Review Date: 2/24/2014

          Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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