Understanding the Relationship Between Anemia and Cancer

Understanding the Relationship Between Anemia and Cancer

When a person has anemia, the red blood cell count of their body drops. Anemia is one of the many side effects of cancer. To prevent healthy RBCs from circulating and doing their function, cancer cells can crowd them out. Also, cancer cells can weaken the red blood cell population by consuming oxygen and other nutrients necessary for healthy red blood cells to survive and replenish themselves. 

Anemia is exacerbated by the fact that low hemoglobin cancer can trigger the body to produce abnormal red blood cells that don’t work properly. In addition to destroying healthy red blood cells, chemotherapy, radiation, and other medications used to treat cancer can also reduce the number of red blood cells in the body, leading to anemia.

Anemia can be caused by many types of cancer, including lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, and lung cancer. Leukemia is a prime example of a cancer causing anemia because it targets the bone marrow which is responsible for producing red blood cells. 

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What Are the Symptoms of Anemia?

There are varying degrees of anemia. The longer you wait to treat your anemia, the more severe your symptoms are likely to become. For many anemics and most cancer patients, no symptoms manifest themselves until it is too late. Some of the signs include nails, gums, and lips being paler than usual. 

If anemia isn’t treated, it can lead to dangerous complications. In the event that you experience any of these signs, please consult a medical professional. 

What Are the Main Treatments?

For anemia, two primary therapies exist.

It is possible to increase a patient’s red blood cell count with a blood transfusion. This procedure is employed only when absolutely necessary.

Patients may also be prescribed erythropoiesis-stimulating agents as an alternative or additional treatment. The body’s ability to make new RBCs is boosted by these. Only patients undergoing chemotherapy designed to improve survival and lengthen life expectancy, rather than cure the disease, are given these drugs. Moreover, at least two more cycles of this chemotherapy must be planned for these patients.

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What About Anemia Related to Cancer?

When dealing with anemia, it’s crucial to first rule out the possibility of cancer. The cause of your anemia may be a tumor that needs to be located and removed.

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and are anemic, your doctor will run a battery of tests to determine the root cause of your anemia. It is important to treat the underlying cause of anemia in this situation. Anemia brought on by cancer and its treatments can be alleviated with blood transfusions.

Iron-Deficiency Anemia Treatments

You can treat iron-deficiency anemia by:

  • Increasing one’s consumption of iron-rich foods or taking iron supplements as an alternative.
  • Informing your medical team of any bleeding issues (outside of menstruation) you may be having and working with them to resolve them if they are contributing to your anemia.

Cancer Treatments

Instances of the following are examples of common cancer treatments:

  • Chemotherapy: Anticancer drugs are injected directly into a vein and then allowed to work on the cancer cells.
  • Radiation: High-powered energy beams are used in this treatment to eradicate cancer. To reduce the size of tumors prior to surgery, radiation therapy is frequently used.
  • Surgery: Tumors are surgically excised in their entirety in order to halt their malignant progression. The location of the tumor often determines whether this approach will work.

Having cancer due to low hemoglobin is rare but not impossible. Cancer can cause anemia in many patients, and if you suspect something, please call your doctor immediately. 

Keep an eye out for more health articles at the All American Hospice blog!

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