Understanding Chemotherapy: A Guide for Patients and Families

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What is anemia?

Anemia is when you have too few red blood cells, and your body tissues don’t get enough oxygen to do their work. You may have these symptoms:

  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • Dizziness
  • Paleness
  • A tendency to feel cold
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Racing heart

Things that may help with anemia:

Try the ideas listed in the section called “Fatigue” (see below) if your anemia is making you feel very tired. Let your doctor or nurse know if you have any of the symptoms listed above. Your doctor will check your blood cell count (also called a complete blood count or CBC) often during your treatment. If your red blood cell count falls too low, you may need a blood transfusion. Some people can be treated with a growth factor – a drug used to boost the number of red blood cells the bone marrow makes.

You can get a lot more information in Anemia in People With Cancer. Call for a free copy, or read it on our Web site.

Last Medical Review: 03/07/2013
Last Revised: 03/07/2013