If white blood cell numbers drop during chemotherapy, it can lower your immunity. This makes you more likely to get infections and less able to fight any infections that do occur. Your doctor may recommend antibiotics as a precaution against infection.

Many types of white blood cells make up the total white cell count. A type of white blood cell known as a neutrophil protects you against infection by destroying harmful bacteria and yeasts that enter the body. During chemotherapy, some people get low levels of neutrophils. This is known as neutropenia.

If you have neutropenia, you may be given an injection of growth factor drugs called granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) after chemotherapy to encourage the bone marrow to make more white blood cells. Your doctor or nurse will speak to you about possible side effects. Some people may experience bone pain or tenderness at the injection site, or show signs of an allergic reaction.

During chemotherapy treatment, even a minor infection could become serious quickly. See When to seek medical help for when you need to contact your doctor urgently.

Taking care with infections during chemotherapy

Here are some tips to reduce your risk of infection during chemotherapy, and advice on when to seek medical help.

Reduce your risk When to seek medical help

To prevent the spread of infection:

  • check with your doctor about having the flu vaccine
  • ask people close to you to consider having a flu shot
  • ask family and friends with a cold, flu or other contagious infection (e.g. chickenpox, measles or a cold sore) to wait until they feel well before visiting
  • as far as practical, avoid close contact with people you live with if they are unwell
  • try to avoid crowded places, such as shopping centres or public transport in peak hour
  • wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food and eating, and after using the toilet
  • prepare and store food properly to avoid foodborne illness and food poisoning 
  • eat freshly cooked  foods; avoid raw fish, seafood, meat, eggs and soft cheeses; and wash fruits and vegetables well before eating.

Contact your doctor or go to the nearest hospital emergency department immediately if you experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • a temperature of 38oC or higher 
  • chills or shivering
  • sweating, especially at night
  • burning or stinging feeling when urinating
  • a severe cough or sore throat
  • shortness of breath
  • vomiting that lasts more than a few hours
  • severe abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhoea
  • unusual bleeding or bruising, such as nosebleeds,  blood in your urine or black bowel motions
  • prolonged faintness or dizziness and a rapid heartbeat
  • any sudden deterioration in your health.

  — Brigita

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  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
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Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

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Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
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Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in August 2018
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