Bone marrow is the soft tissue found mainly inside the long bones, vertebrae, and pelvic bones. The bone marrow's job is to make three important parts of your blood. These parts are:
When your bone marrow doesn't make new blood cells as it should, you have low blood counts. The medical term for this is bone marrow suppression.
The result of low blood counts will depend on which blood cells are affected.
Low blood counts are a common side effect of some cancer treatments. This usually starts about a week or two after treatment. If needed, your doctor will check your blood cell levels often.
Blood counts usually return to normal a few weeks after cancer treatment ends.
The symptoms of low blood counts depend on which parts of the blood are affected.
A low level of red blood cells may make you:
A low level of white blood cells raises the risk of infection of your skin and organs. Signs of infection include:
A low level of platelets may cause abnormal bleeding. Symptoms include:
Tell your doctor right away about any new or changing symptoms during your cancer treatment.
You may get medicines and other treatments to help prevent problems from low blood counts.
Your doctor may also recommend steps you can take at home to feel better and reduce your risk of infection and bleeding.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of: March 28, 2018
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Thomas M. Bailey, MD, CCFP - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Wendy Y. Chen, MD, MPH - Medical Oncology, Hematology & Jimmy Ruiz, MD - Medical Oncology, Hematology
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