If cancer treatment decreases the number of red blood cells in your body, you can develop anemia. Anemia is when fewer blood cells carry oxygen to your body’s cells and tissues so you feel weak, fatigued, experience dizziness, shortness of breath and sometimes depression. If left untreated, anemia can make cancer therapy less effective, interfere with the completion of treatment, strain the heart and cardiovascular system, and possibly result in the need for a red blood cell transfusion.
Fortunately, there are successful treatments for anemia including medications that encourage the growth of red blood cells and hemoglobin (hemoglobin is an important part of your red blood cells which supplies your body with the oxygen it needs). Treatment for anemia is determined by the cause and extent of the condition.
Tips to Manage Anemia
- Get plenty of rest.
- Ask your family and friends for help when your energy is low.
- Eat a nutritious diet and drink plenty of fluid. Ask your doctor or nurse about iron rich foods that are important for you to eat if you have anemia.
- Stand up slowly. Anemia can cause you to feel dizzy when you get up after lying or sitting.
- Report fatigue to your doctor.
- Ask your doctor if you need medication to increase your red blood cells.
What Symptoms Should You Report to Your Doctor?
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling like your heart is pounding or beating very fast
- Confusion or difficulty concentrating
- Dizziness or fainting
- Feeling very tired or unable to perform your daily activities