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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 fewer circulating red blood cells.

Normal blood cell
Normal blood is about 36% to 40% red blood cells and has 12-14 g/dl of hemoglobin.

What is anemia?

Anemia occurs when your blood does not have enough red cells in it. So, anemic blood can’t carry as much oxygen as normal blood. As a result, your body is running on too little fuel. Red blood cells make up 36% to 40% of normal blood. If you have anemia, your red cell count (hematocrit) is below normal. 

Image of woman

Signs to watch for

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Ongoing fatigue

  • Shortness of breath

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Impotence

  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded

  • Constant feeling of being cold

Online Medical Reviewer: Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: LoCicero, Richard, MD
Last Review Date: 12/27/2015
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