- Cancer Information
- Cancer treatment
- Managing chemotherapy side effects
- How chemotherapy affects the blood
How chemotherapy affects the blood
Blood cells are made in the bone marrow, which is the spongy part in the centre of the bones. The bone marrow makes three main types of blood cells, which have specific functions:
- red blood cells – carry oxygen around the body
- white blood cells – fight infection
- platelets – help blood to clot and prevent bruising.
Because the new blood cells are rapidly dividing, they can be damaged by chemotherapy, and the number of blood cells (your blood count) will be reduced. Low numbers of blood cells may cause anaemia, infections or bleeding problems.
You will have blood tests at the beginning of treatment and before each chemotherapy cycle to check that your blood count has returned to normal before you have chemotherapy.
Learn more about:
Dr Prunella Blinman, Medical Oncologist, Concord Cancer Centre, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, and Clinical Senior Lecturer, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, NSW; Gillian Blanchard, Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Calvary Mater Newcastle, and Conjoint Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery, The University of Newcastle, NSW; Julie Bolton, Consumer; Keely Gordon-King, Psychologist, Cancer Council Queensland, QLD; John Jameson, Consumer; Dr Zarnie Lwin, Medical Oncologist, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine, The University of Queensland, QLD; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Dr Felicia Roncolato, Medical Oncology Staff Specialist, Macarthur Cancer Therapy Centre, NSW. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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