- Cancer Information
- Cancer treatment
- Managing chemotherapy side effects
- How chemotherapy affects the blood
- Bleeding problems
A low level of platelets (thrombocytopenia) can cause problems. You may bleed for longer than normal after minor cuts or scrapes, have nosebleeds or bleeding gums, or bruise easily. Periods may be longer or heavier.
Your treatment team will monitor your platelet levels. If chemotherapy causes severe thrombocytopenia, you may need a platelet transfusion. Ask your specialist to explain the risks and benefits of this procedure.
Contact your treatment team or call 000 if you have any persistent bleeding, such as a nosebleed that doesn’t stop within 30 minutes.
How to manage a low platelet count
- Be careful when using knives, scissors or needles, as you may bleed easily from small cuts or nicks.
- Use an electric razor when shaving your face or body to reduce the chance of nicking yourself.
- Wear thick gloves when gardening to avoid injury. (This will also prevent infection from soil, which contains bacteria.)
- Avoid contact sports and high-impact activities, as these could cause bruising or bleeding if you get knocked or fall over.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid irritating your gums.
- Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes indoors and outdoors to avoid cuts on your feet.
- Blow your nose with care.
- If you bleed, apply pressure to the area for about 10 minutes and bandage as needed.
- If you have problems with bleeding, talk to your doctor.
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Clinical A/Prof Rosemary Harrup, Director, Cancer and Blood Services, Royal Hobart Hospital, TAS; Katie Benton, Advanced Dietitian, Cancer Care, Sunshine Coast Hospital and Queensland Health, QLD; Gillian Blanchard, Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Stacey Burton, Consumer; Dr Fiona Day, Staff Specialist, Medical Oncology, Calvary Mater Newcastle, and Conjoint Senior Lecturer, The University of Newcastle, NSW; Andrew Greig, Consumer; Steve Higgs, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Prof Desmond Yip, Clinical Director, Department of Medical Oncology, The Canberra Hospital, ACT.
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