Blood count low. Chemotherapy cancelled. - My Ovacome

My Ovacome

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Blood count low. Chemotherapy cancelled.

nettiebobs profile image

My sister was due her third chemotherapy session tomorrow but it has been cancelled because her blood count is low. What does this mean? Why would it be low and how do you get it to return to a level suitable for the therapy?


16 Replies

The chemo lowers blood count. If it doesnt raise on its own then your sister will be offered a transfusion. Its not uncommon and delayed chemo wont have an effect on its effectiveness. I had couple of delays. I found increasing foods high in iron helped (not that u feel like eating much on chemo) . Big hug to you both xx Kathy xx

Hi nettiebobs,

When your sister's doctor refers to blood counts, he or she is talking about the amount of various cells in your sister's blood. The three main categories of blood cells are:

- Red blood cells (erythrocytes), which help carry oxygen from the lungs around the body to different organs and tissue, etc.

- White blood cells (leucocytes), which help the body fight infection. There are several types of white blood cells. Neutrophils are the major type and are especially good at fighting bacterial infection. These are the white blood cells the doctor will be most concerned with. When neutrophils drop to a certain level, it is called "neutropaenia" and the body may find it more difficult to fight infection by itself. An infection may require intervention (often in the form of hospitalisation and IV antibiotics)

- Platelets (thrombocytes), which are essential for clotting blood. When platelet levels fall to a certain point, it can result in excessive bleeding.

Many chemotherapy drugs destroy the bone marrow where blood cells are produced. This results in low blood cell counts which may require further treatment depending on how low they are. Chemotherapy will often be delayed at this point to allow the bone marrow to recover and produce more blood cells. This is not uncommon in chemo patients.

I hope this helps. Wishing you and your sister all the best!

Hi, my current chemo has been delayed due to low white blood count ( see not that girl for explanation on different blood counts) I have an injection to try to increase white blood cells, had another today and moving forward will probably be having 2 a month rather than 1(they are long lasting). If red blood cells are low you can increase iron in diet or in worst case scenario they can give you a transfusion ( I have only had transfusion- platelets and iron after surgery) .

Oh dear... try not to worry nettiebobs, many of us have this happen... the 21 day cycle between infusions sounds set in stone but if you are like me and your bloods rarely recover in time it ends up being a 28 day cycle! The chemo is definitely working though...that’s the up side. She will be ready to go again after a week off xx

nettiebobs profile image
nettiebobs in reply to Lyndy

Thank you. It’s so worrisome. And she looked so well when I saw her today.

My first three chemos did not drop my white cells too low. But I needed to get a Udenyca shot after each of my last three chemos to nudge my bone marrow to ramp up production. The shot caused joint pain, but it kept my chemo on schedule. Also, my second chemo was delayed about two weeks. I still went into remission at the end of the six chemos. I do hope you will be able to worry a little less. Best wishes from Louisiana,


The replies have explained it pretty well. I’ve had this happen quite often, she just needs a week or so break and levels will improve. Even with all the breaks I’ve had to take due to low blood levels my chemo treatments have been effective fighting my cancer, my past two 3 month scans showed my tumors have disappeared for the time being. Hang in there, keep your worries at bay, trust your oncologist. Prayers.

Hi Nettlebobs,

My first advice is DON’T PANIC!

It could be low white blood cells (WBC). The one they particularly watch is Neutrophils - these being low is the main reason those having chemotherapy have low immunity. It isn’t unusual to have an infusion deferred and the blood count can rise just as quickly as it can drop.

Your sister probably has a card that a nurse should fill in showing levels of WBC and haemoglobin (Hb) etc - if it’s not being filled in your sister can ask for this to be done- and ask what her levels are. You can then look up the normal levels and compare them - but don’t panic if they are lower than normal.

Usually the Hb and WBC are low when on chemotherapy but no action is taken unless they fall from moderately low to severely low. However, deferring a dose is a cautionary action and can be for all sorts of reasons (I had one deferred simple because I told a nurse I’d had slight heart palpitations, just once for a minute!).

Ask your sister if she has had any other info - and if she wants more information she should be able to get it. Unless she is willing to give you written authority to receive information from her health professionals on her behalf she will need to seek out these answers herself - but not every patient wants to know every little detail of their treatment.

This must be very frustrating for you and maybe the two of you could talk about this. Personally I like to know everything, and I also set up a Lasting Power of Attorney not only for finances but also for HEALTH - otherwise just a signed note should be enough to get health information. If she doesn’t want to know you might have to accept that you won’t know either.

Do let us know how things are going, good luck 🍀


White or red? If white they give booster shots to bring it up if red and really low they transfuse. You can Google to see what foods help but red us harder to bring up. Good luck from paris

Strangely enough the didn’t tell her. I think she will probably find out today. I suppose these are the questions you don’t ask, obviously because you don’t know. Or maybe they did and she didn’t hear. Sometimes you’re listening but not. Big disappointment for her. I think she was hoping to get the 4th done before her birthday at the end of June and I know she wants to go away for a few days. 😢

When she reads blood test results hemoglobin is red neutrophil is white

Just to echo the others, I had the same experience. My RBCs stayed very low throughout chemo, but I never had to have a blood transfusion. On two or three occasions my WBCs dropped low enough that chemo was delayed and I was given Neupogen, which helps blood marrow to make more WBCs.

Thanks for that. I was wondering if a transfusion was the only way forward but it seems not which is good.

I did have to have transfusions prior to diagnosis due to bleeding, and it's not necessarily a bad thing. They made me feel so much better almost instantly.

Hi Nettiebobs, I had to have a blood transfusion, because my hemoglobin was very low. The doctors look at all different things like the CBC and the metabolic panel. The blood work is very important when we have treatments. Try not to worry too much, because all of this is common with us ladies on here. Sending a hug , Donna U.S.A.

Thanks. These are good things to know. It’s just normal I imagine to think ‘doom and gloom’.

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