Bone Marrow Suppression and Chemotherapy

Cancer Treatment - Bone Marrow Suppression and Chemotherapy

The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the type of chemotherapy and the amount given. Anticipating and managing side effects can help to minimize them and provide the best possible experience for the person receiving chemotherapy.

What is bone marrow suppression?

As each person's individual medical profile and diagnosis is different, so is his or her reaction to treatment. Side effects may be severe, mild, or absent. Be sure to discuss with your cancer care team the possible side effects of treatment before the treatment begins.

Nearly all chemotherapy agents suppress the bone marrow which, in turn, causes a reduction in the number of blood cells. The timing of this reduction varies according to which agents and doses are used for your treatment. Red blood cells carry oxygen, white blood cells fight infection, and platelets help to control bleeding and bruising. Thus, the risks for anemia, fatigue, infection, bleeding, and bruising are increased with bone marrow suppression.

What are the symptoms of bone marrow suppression?

The following are the most common symptoms of bone marrow suppression. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently.

Symptoms of a low red blood cell count may include:

Symptoms of a low white blood cell count only occur if an infection results from the low count, and may include:

Symptoms of a low platelet count may include:

The symptoms of bone marrow suppression may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

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