Chemotherapy can affect the bone marrow's ability to make platelets. Platelets are blood cell fragments that help stop bleeding by making your blood clot. If your blood does not have enough platelets, you may bleed or bruise more easily than usual, even without an injury.
Call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
Unexpected bruisingSmall, red spots on the skinReddish or pinkish urineBlack or bloody stoolNosebleedsBleeding gumsHeavy vaginal bleeding that lasts longer than a regular period or that is not related to your periodHeadaches or vision problemsWarm to hot feeling of an arm or legFeeling confused or excessively tired
Your doctor may check your platelet count often while you are undergoing
chemotherapy. If your platelet count falls too low, the doctor may give you a blood transfusion to build up the count. There are also medications called colony stimulating factors that help increase your platelets.
If your platelet count is low,do
Check with your healthcare team before: Taking any medication, including herbs, supplements, or over-the-counter drugsDrinking any alcoholic beveragesUsing dental flossHaving sexUse a very soft toothbrush to clean your teeth.When cleaning your nose, blow gently into a soft tissue.Take extra care not to cut or nick yourself when using scissors, needles, knives, or tools.Use an electric shaver instead of a razor.Wear shoes all the time, even if you are indoors.Be careful not to burn yourself when ironing or cooking.Drink plenty of fluids and eat fiber to promote normal bowel movementsAvoid contact sports and other activities that might result in injury.
Chemotherapy and you. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/chemotherapy-and-you.pdf. Published June 2011. Accessed March 5, 2014.
Toxicities of chemotherapeutic agents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 11, 2014. Accessed March 5, 2014.
Understanding chemotherapy: a guide for patients and families. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003025-pdf.pdf. Accessed March 5, 2014.
Last reviewed March 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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