Blood Transfusion during Cancer Treatment: What to Expect?

Blood Transfusion during Cancer Treatment: What to Expect?

Blood transfusion can be an essential part of the cancer treatment, where it may be required to mitigate effects of cancer or side effects of cancer therapy. It is not perse a cancer treatment, and it is not required for all patients. Blood transfusion aids in the management of the adverse effects of cancer therapy and improves the overall quality of life.

This article attempts to answer the most frequently asked questions about blood transfusions related to cancer treatment.

What is a blood transfusion?
Blood transfusion is a medical procedure in which a blood or blood component donated by a healthy individual is given to replace it in people who need it.

When is blood transfusion required in cancer patients?
Here are some reasons that could prompt the need for a blood transfusion in cancer patients:

Blood loss due to surgery: Complex cancer operations can result in significant blood loss. In such circumstances, a blood transfusion is required to return the blood to normal levels.
Chemotherapy-induced anemia: Chemotherapy suppresses the red blood cell production in bone marrow. Reduction in number of red blood cells leads to a condition called anemia. Blood transfusions can help replace red blood cell counts and alleviate symptoms such as weariness and weakness that are caused due to low blood cell counts.
Bone marrow failure: Certain blood cancers like leukemia and myeloma predominantly affect bone marrow. This interferes with the production of normal blood cells and their functions. Blood transfusions serve to replenish the blood cell count and restore its functionality.
Low platelet count: Chemotherapy lowers the number of platelets in the body, which are necessary in the clotting of blood. Platelet transfusion can prevent bleeding episodes in such cases.
Bone marrow transplant: Bone marrow transplantation is a cancer treatment in which diseased bone marrow is replaced with healthy bone marrow.