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Understanding Anemia (During Chemotherapy)

Chemotherapy can reduce the number of red blood cells in your body. When you have too few of these cells, anemia can result. Anemia has many symptoms. Talk to your health care provider if you have any of the signs listed here. You may need treatment.

Amemic blood cell
Anemic blood has less than about 35% red blood cells.

Normal blood cell
Normal blood is about 40% red blood cells.

What Is Anemia?

Anemia occurs when your blood does not have enough red cells in it. Then your blood can’t carry as much oxygen. As a result, your body is running on too little fuel. Red blood cells make up 35% to 45% of normal blood. If you have anemia, your red cell count (hematocrit) is below 35. 

Image of woman

Signs to Watch For

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Ongoing fatigue

  • Shortness of breath

  • Rapid, irregular heartbeat

  • Impotence

  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded

  • Constant feeling of being cold

Online Medical Reviewer: Foster, Sara, RN, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 2/7/2014
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.