Blood

Chemotherapy White Blood Cell Count

White blood cells (WBCs) act as the body’s defensive mechanism and they fight against diseases and germs. Chemotherapy may drop the white blood cells count. Another treatment that causes this condition is radiation therapy for certain cancers. Chemotherapy treatment is used to kill the cancer cell which divide very quickly killing the normal cells along with the white blood cells present in the bone marrow. The drugs used for chemotherapy usually kill most of the WBCs in the body.

Relation between white blood cells and chemotherapy

  • Neutropenia is a side effect that occurs during chemotherapy and this lowers certain white blood cells.
  • Low white blood cells count is an indicator of bad immune system and increases the risk of infections which can be life-threatening at times.
  • This can lead to a delay in treatment for cancer as there are chances for the WBC count to fall further.
  • This can lead to fever or infections and the patient can be hospitalized until the WBC count rises high enough to fight the bacteria and infections. Febrile Neutropenia is a condition that occurs due to low neutrophil counts.

Signs of Infections during Chemotherapy

Symptoms of chemotherapy which occur due to the reduced amount of white blood cells are:

  • Fever
  • Loose stools
  • Cough
  • Abscesses or boils
  • Sore throat and
  • Swallowing problems

When does this Occur?

  • This condition occurs just few days after the chemotherapy and may get reduced in the second or third week after the therapy.
  • The count of WBCs rise once the bone marrow cells recover from the effects of chemotherapy.
  • The health care provider verifies the blood count before each cycle of chemotherapy to ensure that the blood count has returned to the normal range.

How to prevent Low White Blood Cell Count?

  • People suffering from low WBC count during chemotherapy should avoid extreme temperatures.
  • They should make it a point to eat freshly cooked food each time they eat.
  • They should keep themselves clean and should wash their hands before and after meals.
  • Avoid getting in contact with people who have infections and avoid places with poor ventilation or crowded places.

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