More cancer treatments are becoming available locally, so it’s extremely important that the blood products necessary to support patients undergoing those treatments are readily available. We hope everyone donating in October will take a minute to visit with our staff about automated donation on our Trima machines, and look into whether your platelet count and veins make you suitable for it.
Automated donation is the only way we can collect platelets for patient transfusion. Platelet use for patient care is up 3 fold for local cancer patients, so we look forward to discussing automated donation with you this month!
Cancer patients need not only platelets, but red cells and plasma as well. According to an article in the January 2015 issue of Cancer Control entitled Transfusion Indications for Patients with Cancer, blood cancers like leukemia (hematological malignancies) use around 34% of the red blood cell supply, and anemia may occur in 90% of patients during chemotherapy.
According to the Mayo Clinic, low blood cell counts can lead to very serious complications during cancer treatments, which may delay ongoing treatments. The most-serious complications of low blood cell counts include infections, anemia, and bleeding. Red blood cells, plasma and platelets may be needed to help the cancer patient overcome these complications so that cancer fighting treatments can continue.
Cancer-related causes of low blood cell counts include:
- Chemotherapy drugs can damage the bone marrow, the spongy material found in bones that makes blood cells.
- Radiation therapy to large areas of the body and especially to the large bones that contain the most bone marrow, may cause low levels of red and white blood cells.
- Cancers of the blood and bone marrow, such as leukemia, grow in the bone marrow and don’t allow normal blood cells to develop.
- Cancers that spread, or metastasize, because cells have broken off a tumor can end up in the bone marrow and displace other cells there, making it difficult to produce blood cells.
We all know someone who has been through cancer and needed these treatments. Let’s work together to ensure the platelets, plasma and red cells necessary for the fight against cancer are on the shelf to save lives.