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Suggest treatment for low RBC inspite of having blood cancer

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2005
Answered : 2584 Questions
My wife has cancer of the blood and gets low levels of (1) Red Blood cells from normal to "2.7" and (2) low levels of Hemoglobin down to 7.5 in two weeks and 6.7 in three weeks.
She gets 2 to 3 pints of blood about every 2 to 3 weeks to keep her Red Blood cells and Hemoglobin at low, normal.
Is this all that can be done or is there a drug / or shot she could take to keep her Red Blood cell and Hemoglobin at "normal levels"?
Posted Sun, 3 Aug 2014 in Blood Cancer(Leukemia)
Answered by Dr. Prasad 10 hours later
Brief Answer:
The choice of treatment is based on tolerance...

Detailed Answer:

I went through the details provided and I am sorry for her condition.

I understand it is cumbersome and strenuous efforts to transfuse her blood very often. However at this point of time, I feel that is the most safest and best method to improve red blood cells.

Blood cancer growth overtakes normal red blood cell production and over a period of time it uses up resources (erythropoietin stem cells) thereby leading to low red blood cells and hemoglobin. Oncologist try to prevent blood cancer cell growth with medications (chemotherapy) and radiations in an effort to stimulate / favor normal blood cell production. However the current available treatment has plenty of side effects. I am not sure your wife at the age of 83 will be able to tolerate those side effects. In such situation the next best option is to transfer new bone marrow cells from compatible host (donor).

Since the two available options are not so easily tolerated at this age, her treating doctors have decided repeated blood transfusion as the option. I agree with this decision.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you need clarifications.

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