Q:

How do you bring up WBC and RBC that are low due to chemo treatments?

A:

Quick Answer

Prescription medications that prompt the body to produce more white and red blood cells are used in some patients with low blood counts due to chemotherapy, explains The Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative. Neupogen, Neulasta or Leukine help raise the white count. PROCRIT or Aranesp help raise the red count.

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Full Answer

Infection, anemia and bleeding are serious complications that can arise as a result of low blood counts, according to Mayo Clinic. Infection risk rises as the number of white blood cells falls. This is especially true when the number of neutrophils falls, as these white cells specifically fight infection. Infections can develop rapidly and without the normal signs and symptoms when counts are low. They can become life threatening without prompt treatment and delay subsequent chemotherapy treatments.

Anemia results when red blood cells drop, notes Mayo Clinic. Fatigue, shortness of breath and a rapid heart rate are the most common symptoms of anemia. Fatigue can be so disabling that treatment may be delayed or drug doses reduced until the anemia resolves. Blood transfusions can treat anemia if prescription red blood cell boosters are contraindicated.

Bleeding becomes a risk when platelets are low, cautions Mayo Clinic. Dangerous internal bleeding is the greatest concern, though minor injuries may also bleed excessively. Bruises may seem to come "from nowhere," and nosebleeds or bleeding gums may occur without warning. Excessive bleeding can also contribute to anemia.

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