Other words you may hear:
- Myelosuppression - a decrease in the production of blood cells, which may lead to low blood count.
- Pancytopenia - a lowering of all three types of blood cells; red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells, which may lead to low red blood cell count, low blood platelet count, and/or low white blood cell count.
- Anemia - a decrease in the number of red blood cells (RBC), which may lead to low red blood count.
- Thrombocytopenia - a decrease in the number of platelets (PLT), which may lead to low blood platelet count.
- Leukopenia - a decrease in the total number of white blood cells (WBC), which may lead to low white blood cell count.
- Neutropenia - a decrease in the number of neutrophils, one type of white blood cell, which may lead to low white blood cell count.
- Granulocytopenia - a decrease in the number of granulocytes, the group of white blood cells that include neutrophils, basophils and eosinophils, which may lead to low white blood cell count.
What Are Low Blood Counts?
Many of the chemotherapy drugs temporarily stop cells from dividing, especially the cells that divide quickly. Blood cells; red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets are made by the bone marrow. These blood cells divide quickly. Chemotherapy may lead to low blood counts, causing the possibility of a variety of symptoms. The symptoms depend on the type of low blood cell count.
Low Red Blood Cell Count
(Anemia, low hemoglobin, low hematocrit)
Red blood cells carry oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. A complete blood count (CBC) is a blood test used to check your blood count. The RBC, hemoglobin, and hematocrit are tests to see if you have low red blood count.
Normal Adult ValuesMaleFemaleRBC4.5 - 6.0 M/ul4.2 - 5.4 M/ulHemoglobin (HgB)14 - 18 g/dL12 - 16 g/dLHematocrit (Hct)40 - 52%37 - 47%Note: Normal values will vary from laboratory to laboratory.When you have low red blood cell count you may feel:
- Short of breath
- Increase in your heart rate
- Dizzy or lightheaded when you change positions quickly
If you suffer from low red blood cell count, you may experience:
- Chest Pain
- Pale skin
Things you can do to help manage your low red blood count:
- Rest between activities.
- Plan ahead and save your energy for the most important activities.
- Avoid or stop activities that make you short of breath or make your heart beat faster.
- Ask others for help.
- Eat a diet with adequate protein and vitamins.
- Drink plenty of non-caffeinated and non-alcoholic fluids.
When to call your doctor or health care provider about low blood counts:
- Severe weakness.
- You feel dizzy or lightheaded.
- Your heart is beating faster.
- You feel short of breath or are having difficulty breathing.
- Call immediately if you are having chest pain.
Your doctor or health care provider may prescribe or suggest to treat your low red blood count:
- Epoetin alfa (PROCRIT®).
- Darbepoetin (Aranesp®).
- Iron supplement.
- A diet high in protein.
- A red blood cell transfusion.