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SIDE EFFECTS AND SYMPTOM MANAGEMENT /// CHAPTER 37
Low Blood Counts,
Transfusions, and
Infections
As you go through cancer treatment, you will start to hear a lot
about " your counts. " This is how we monitor the effect that your
treatment has on your body's ability to produce blood cells.
A Closer Look at Your Blood:
What we call " blood " is actually made up of several different types of cells that each have an important role to play in keeping
us healthy. Blood cells are produced in our bone marrow - the area in the center of our bones - and pushed out into our
bloodstream.
» Red Blood Cells contain hemoglobin, which carries oxygen around our body. All of the cells in our body need oxygen to
survive.
» White Blood Cells help our bodies fight infection. There are several types of white blood cells, but usually doctors are
focused on your Neutrophils. Neutrophils can travel most widely in your body to help your body fight infections.
» Platelets are important because they help keep your body from bleeding too much. They do this by forming blood clots.
Here is an FAQ on blood counts:
Blood cell
White blood cell (WBC)
And
Neutrophils (ANC)
What's normal What's " low "
4500-11,000
And
1500-7000
Less than 2000
And
Less than 1000
What will happen if I have low
counts?
You are " immunocompromised " or more
likely to get an infection.
Bacterial infections when your counts are
low can cause " sepsis " which can be lifethreatening
if not treated promptly
Hemoglobin
And
Hematocrit
12-16
And
36-48
(lower end of
range for females)
Platelets
150-450
Spontaneous bleeds
can happen below 1020;
needs to be 50-100
for most procedures
and surgeries
You will bruise more easily; " petechiae "
are tiny blood vessel bruises and look like
little red dotted rash. You might bleed
spontaneously - like bleeding gums.
nosebleeds or blood in stool or urine.
Transfusion of platelets
(there is a " growth stimulator "
for platelets but it is not
frequently given)
Less than 8
And
Less than 24
" Anemia " which can make you feel
fatigued, have headache, be winded, feel
a more rapid heart rate
Can low counts be
treated?
Transfusing white blood
cells is problematic, as
your body recognizes them
as foreign, and so is rarely
done. You may be given a
" growth stimulating " drug that
minimizes the drop in WBC
Transfusion of red blood cells
(there is a " growth stimulator "
for red cells but it is not
frequently given)
https://fwaya.org/

What Do I Do Now?

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