A reduced number of blood cells in circulation is a common side effect of chemotherapy. Blood is composed of three basic blood cell types: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Blood cells are produced in the bone marrow and regularly released into circulation. Chemotherapy destroys rapidly dividing cells, a characteristic of cancer cells. However, bone marrow cells also divide rapidly and are frequently damaged by chemotherapy. Blood counts are monitored with a laboratory test called a Complete Blood Count (CBC). The best way to treat low blood counts is to prevent them before they occur. This can be accomplished with the administration of blood cell growth factors. In some circumstances, blood transfusions may also be necessary.
What are low blood counts?
A blood count is a measurement of the number of blood cells an individual has in circulation based on laboratory evaluation of a blood sample. Blood is composed of three basic blood cell types: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. You should have billions of these blood cells circulating throughout your body. However, certain circumstances may cause you to have fewer cells than is considered normal, a condition which is called “low blood counts”. The laboratory test that is conducted to measure the number of blood cells is called a complete blood count, or CBC.