Rest As Much As You Can To Save Your Energy
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid prolonged or strenuous activity.
- Pace yourself. Take rest periods during activities that make you feel tired. If necessary, take short naps throughout the day.
- Prioritize your activities so you will have enough energy for important activities or the activities that you enjoy the most.
- Ask friends and family to help you prepare meals or do chores when you are tired.
The Complete Blood Count: A Guide For Patients With Cancer
Cancer chemotherapy and radiation therapy are used to damage or kill cancer cells. Some of the body’s normal cells, including the blood cells, may also be damaged by these treatments. Some medicines can also slow down the making of blood cells. The good news is that your body can repair damaged normal cells. Most of the side effects of cancer treatment caused by the damage to normal cells only last for a short time, until the body has had time to repair the damage. This booklet will explain about the normal cells that can be damaged that are made in the bone marrow.
Bleeding And Low Platelet Counts
A mild or moderate decrease in platelet counts usually doesn’t cause bleeding. However, if you have a severely low platelet count, you may experience:
- Excessive bleeding from cuts or bruises
- Pinhead-sized bleeding points in the skin, called petechiae, especially on the lower legs and ankles
- Black-and-blue spots on the skin from minor bumps without any apparent injury
- Reddish or pinkish urine
- Black or bloody bowel movements
- Bleeding from the gums or nose
- Pain in joints and muscles
Once therapy is completed and the platelet count is restored to a sufficient level, these side effects rapidly fade. However, if you need to receive additional treatment and your platelet count remains low, you may need a platelet transfusion. Certain medications can weaken the platelets and worsen bleeding problems as well.
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Problems Anemia Can Cause
The first thing the doctor needs to know is how severe your anemia is. Anemia can affect your quality of life and has been found to shorten survival in people with cancer. It can make you feel very tired because cells in your body cant get enough oxygen. In some cases, this lack of oxygen may be bad enough to threaten your life. Anemia can also make your heart work harder. So if you already have a heart problem, anemia can make it worse. Anemia can also make it hard for you to breath normally, making it challenging to do your usual activities.
Severe anemia may mean you have to delay your cancer treatment or have your treatment dose reduced. It can also cause some cancer treatments to not work as well as they should.
Your cancer care team may try to figure out your risk of serious problems from the anemia based on any symptoms you are having and your hemoglobin level. If youre not having symptoms, they will try to figure out how likely you are to have them in the near future. This will be based on a number of things, including:
- Your hemoglobin level and other lab results
- The type of cancer treatments youve had in the past
- The chances that any treatments youre now getting could make the anemia worse
- Whether you have lung, heart, or blood vessel problems
If you dont seem to be at risk for problems from anemia, your cancer care team will watch your hemoglobin level closely and ask about symptoms each time you visit the office.
Bleeding And Clotting Problems
Patients with a certain type of AML called acute promyelocytic leukemia might have problems with bleeding and blood clotting. They might have a nosebleed that wont stop, or a cut that wont stop oozing. They might also have calf swelling from a blood clot called a deep vein thrombosis or chest pain and shortness of breath from a blood clot in the lung .
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Signs And Symptoms Of Low White Count
A decrease in the number of white blood cells is called neutropenia . If your child’s ANC is low, there is an increased risk of an infection. Signs of infection include:
- Any areas of redness, warmth, or pain
- Drainage from central venous catheter site
If your child is exposed to any contagious diseases call the hematologist/oncologist.
Blood Transfusions To Treat Anemia
A blood cell transfusion is a safe and a common way to treat anemia in people with cancer. It can help the patient feel better and helps oxygen get to vital organs. While blood transfusions can help symptoms very quickly, sometimes the relief is temporary depending on the cause of anemia.
Whether a blood transfusion might be needed depends on how severe your symptoms are and your hemoglobin level. A transfusion might be done if your hemoglobin level reaches a certain number or if your symptoms get too bothersome
A blood transfusion requires careful matching of donated blood to the recipients blood. Blood products are tested to be sure they are safe and the same kind of blood type as the recipient. But, receiving a blood transfusion also has some risks
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Symptoms Caused By Low Numbers Of Blood Cells
Many signs and symptoms of AML are the result of a shortage of normal blood cells, which happens when the leukemia cells crowd out the normal blood-making cells in the bone marrow. As a result, people don’t have enough normal red blood cells, white blood cells, and blood platelets. These shortages show up on blood tests, and they can also cause symptoms.
Treatment Of Low White Count
Most infections require 7 to 14 days of antibiotic treatment in the hospital. Antibiotics are given through an IV. If you are told to come to the Emergency Room or Hematology Clinic, tests will be done to look for the source of infection. Tests that may be done are blood cultures, urine culture, chest X-ray and sinus X-ray.
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How To Treat Anemia
Blood transfusions are one treatment for anemia related to cancer. Thatâs when you get extra blood to boost the number of red blood cells you have.
You might also get drugs called erythropoiesis-stimulating agents, or ESAs. They spur your body to make more red blood cells. You’ll only get ESAs if you’re having a certain kind of chemotherapy.
If you have anemia due to bleeding from a gastrointestinal cancer like colon cancer, you could get iron therapy. You’ll get iron in a pill, or through an IV. Your doctor might also ask you to eat more foods with lots of iron, such as:
- Leafy green veggies like kale and spinach
What Blood Tests Should I Get Annually
The 5 types of blood tests you should do every year
- Broad Thyroid Panel. …
- Essential Nutrients: iron/ferritin, vitamin D, vitamin B12, magnesium. …
- Complete Metabolic Panel and Complete Blood Count. …
- Metabolic Markers: Hemoglobin A1c, fasting glucose and insulin, lipid panel. …
- Inflammatory markers: hsCRP, homocysteine.
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White Blood Cell Count
This test measures the number of white blood cells in a drop of blood. A low WBC count may be due to chemotherapy, a viral infection, a toxic reaction, or a process in the bone marrow that limits the bodys ability to make normal WBCs. A high WBC count may result from an infection or leukemia. A person is at an increased risk of infection if his/her WBC count drops below 1,000 cells per microliter.
- Range from 3,700 to 10,500
Consequences Of Cancer Treatment
If you have severe anemia, you may have to delay your cancer treatment or reduce your dose until your anemia is better managed. Anemia can cause weakness and also make some cancer treatments less effective.
Your doctor will evaluate your best course of treatment to minimize possible complications caused by cancer treatment while you have anemia.
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What Are Low Blood Counts
A blood count is a measurement of the number of blood cells an individual has in circulation based on laboratory evaluation of a blood sample. Blood is composed of three basic blood cell types: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. You should have billions of these blood cells circulating throughout your body. However, certain circumstances may cause you to have fewer cells than is considered normal, a condition which is called low blood counts. The laboratory test that is conducted to measure the number of blood cells is called a complete blood count, or CBC.
Anemia And Colon Cancer
Iron deficiency can be one of the first symptoms of colon cancer. Because the right side of your colon is distant to your rectum, blood in the stool has time to degrade and probably will not be recognizable by the time you pass it in a bowel movement.
Large tumors in this portion of the colon can continue to bleed slowly, and over time, this will be reflected in a low blood count.
In one study, 6% of people referred to a clinic due to iron deficiency anemia were found to have colon cancer. Of these people, the majority of cancers were in the right colon.
Anemia at the time of diagnosis with colon cancer was linked with a poor prognosis in the past, but this does not appear to be the case in more recent studies.
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Why Is Anemia Linked To Cancer
While there are several types of anemia, iron deficiency anemia is the type that is most often linked to cancer. Iron deficiency anemia is caused by a lack of healthy red blood cells in the body.
is caused by a lack of a sufficient amount of the mineral iron to make healthy red blood cells. Your body makes red blood cells in bone marrow, a spongy material inside your bodys largest bones.
Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of your body. A low red blood cell count or anemia occurs when:
- the body does not make enough
- red blood cells are lost through bleeding
- the body starts to destroy its own red blood cells
When red blood cells are damaged or not numerous enough, they cannot carry oxygen efficiently throughout your body. This leads to symptoms including weakness and fatigue. Anemia can cause serious health complications if left untreated.
Iron deficiency anemia is
- blood loss, especially through menstrual cycles
People most at risk for anemia include older adults, people who menstruate, people with alcohol use disorder, and those who experience neglect, or those who are unable to access enough nutrients.
How Many Kinds Of Blood Cancer Exist
There are three primary types of blood cancer:
- Leukemia is cancer of white blood cells or cells that become white blood cells. Leukemia prevents white blood cells from fighting infections in your body. Leukemia can be either acute or chronic , and affect the lymphocytes or other immune cells . Its the most common blood cancer for children under the age of 15.
- Lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system , particularly lymph nodes . It affects a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes. The type doctors know the most about is called Hodgkins lymphoma . Its the most common form of blood cancer in adults, accounting for over half of all diagnosed blood cancer cases.
- Myeloma is cancer of the plasma cells, which are lymphocytes that make antibodies to protect against infections. Myeloma affects your bodys immune system, leaving it susceptible to infection.
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Low Blood Cell Counts From Cancer Treatments
Treatments for cancers can also lead to a drop in the number of WBCs in your blood. Medications like chemotherapy disrupt how rapidly growing cells such as cancer cells reproduce. It can also damage healthy cells like white blood cells. Radiation therapy, another common cancer treatment, works in much the same way and can also lead to a drop in white blood cell counts.
In many cases, a low white blood cell count caused by cancer treatments is temporary. Blood cell counts will usually return to normal levels once the treatment ends.
What Exactly Is Blood
Blood has four main parts:
- Plasma, the liquid part of blood that transports nutrients, waste products, and proteins and other molecules responsible for affecting the function of various parts of the body, including regulating body temperature and fluid balance
- Red blood cells, the cells responsible for transporting oxygen to lungs and tissues
- White blood cells, the cells responsible for protecting against infections
- Platelets, the cells that form blood clots and prevent blood loss
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Abnormal Blood Counts Treatment
Blood is composed of red blood cells , white blood cells and blood platelets. These cells and cell fragments are suspended in blood plasma. Abnormal amounts of these components can lead to several symptoms and health problems. These abnormalities can also be caused by an underlying disease. Abnormal blood counts are common and are often very treatable. In rare cases, an abnormal blood count can indicate an immune disorder or a cancer.
Physicians in the Benign Hematology Program specialize in evaluating patients with abnormal blood counts to identify the cause of their condition and create a personalized treatment plan.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Anemia
Many people with anemia feel fatigue or muscle weakness. These symptoms can make it harder to cope with other physical and emotional effects of cancer treatment.
Symptoms of anemia may also include:
Rapid or irregular heart beat
Occasional chest pain
Trouble staying warm
Talk with your health care team about any symptoms you experience. This includes any new symptoms or a change in symptoms. Managing anemia and other cancer side effects is an important part of your medical care and treatment. This type of care is called palliative care or supportive care.
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Anemia Symptoms To Lookout For
Anemia might be accompanied by symptoms that reflect your body’s deficit of red blood cells, including:
- Feeling weak or tired all of the time
- Shortness of breath
- Increased susceptibility to infection
- Cold hands or feet
It’s important to note, however, that not everyone who is anemic has symptoms.
If you have one or more symptoms of anemia, especially if you have cancer or a known family history of colon cancer, do not delay talking to your healthcare provider.
Tests For Causes Of Anemia
A complete blood count is a blood test that measures your hemoglobin level and other characteristics of your red blood cells . This test not only shows if you have anemia, but it can also help your doctor figure out what might be causing it.
You might also need other tests to help to find what is causing it. These could include:
- Blood chemistry tests to check organ function and levels of vitamins and minerals
- A blood test called a reticulocytecount
- A bone marrow exam to make sure your bone marrow is working as it should
- Blood tests to look at your iron, vitamin B12, and folate levels
- A test of your stool to check for blood
Your doctor or nurse can use the results of these tests, along with your medical information and a physical exam, to get an idea of what might be causing your anemia. Sometimes no cause can be found other than anemia of chronic disease. This type of anemia is often found in people with long-lasting problems like congestive heart failure, inflammatory diseases, or cancer.
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Can Cancer Cause A High White Blood Cell Count
While infections and inflammation are more often to blame for an increase in white blood cell counts, some cancers can increase your WBC count as well. This condition, called leukocytosis, can occur in some of the same cancers that cause WBCs to drop, like leukemia and lymphoma. Leukemia and lymphomas can cause out-of-control reproduction of some types of blood cells. When there are too many white blood cells, they can crowd out healthy cells and disrupt normal function and cell production.
Anemia And Bone Cancer
Bone cancer is rare in adults. It begins when abnormal cells begin to grow in the bones into masses, or tumors, called sarcoma.
Experts dont know most cases of bone cancer. However, some bone cancers appear to be linked to genetics, while others are related to previous exposure to radiation, such as radiation therapy for other, previous cancers.
What Do The Results Mean
Your results will show whether you have a normal red blood cell count or a count that is too low or too high.
A low red blood cell count can be a sign of:
- Leukemia, a type of blood cancer
- Malnutrition, a condition in which your body does not get the calories, vitamins, and/or minerals needed for good health
- Multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow
It may also be a sign of pregnancy.
A high red blood cell count can be a sign of:
Learn more about laboratory tests, references ranges, understanding results.