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White Blood Cells drop - Mark off chemo

musiclover's picture
Posts: 242
Joined: Oct 2005

Mark has been on one chemo for his stage IV cancer. They are only using this one drug because they want him on an upcoming trial and all drugs but this will disqualify him. This one drug alone has been worrying and now I'm more worried because they refused to give him his third treatment Tuesday due to the low WBC count. He's been feeling soooo tired lately but weekly blood tests showed all was okay. Well, not anymore. Meanwhile, the his chemo nurse is on maternity leave and his doctor is on vacation. The remaining nurse is so swamped she can't return my call, the doctor left in charge doesn't get messages. Sooo frustrating!!!

Questions: Is this typical and if so how long does it usually take for the blood cells to recuperate? After they do and one is put back on chemo, don't they just plummet again? Mark, as usual, is calm and collected. I'm suspicious and worried sick. Next CT is Nov. 19th. Last one showed much progression in spite of the Xeloda, Oxaliplatin and Avastin trial.

Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

I'm sorry Mark and you are going through this frustration with the WBC. I'm sure everyone's pattern is different. I am someone whose WBCs took a bashing during chemo, and I had to face delays and, eventually, drugs to enhance. In my case, I was a "late dipper". My understanding is that, with chemo, the WBCs dip and then rise again. Usually,they rise up to an acceptable level in about 2 weeks (well, that's with folfox), which is why the folfox is scheduled for every 2 weeks. In my case, I dipped later but came back up again later (as I came to learn, after many blood tests!). One week later (ie 3 weeks versus 2), I was usually OK. Over time, the WBCs may take longer to recover or dip down a little lower. I took not Neulasta but another one (chemo brain, can't rememer the name). Rather than one dose which lasts 2 weeks, I took daily shots for 4 days, which was just enough to raise my WBC count. But, not everyone can do or choses to go this route. I am sorry you are facing the additional frustration of the nurses and doctors on vacation - how frustrating!! Best wishes thinking of you

Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2004

I know it is tough going through the stages Mark. My educated guess as a colorectal survivor, is BOTHER those doctors. They had to leave some Doctor to take their patients while they are gone. I can only tell you my wbc's took a drastic drop and I was in hospital for 12 days to get it back up. You have a right for them to be more concerned. Especially if the potassium is low TOO. Many blessings to you, and you will be better, hang in there. Shirley

Posts: 1560
Joined: May 2006

I know exactly how you feel. My husband is also stage 4. He was NED for about three months in the spring. He is now back on chemo, including Avastin. Last year the chemo did not affect his counts enough to delay chemo but this time the story is different. He has had low counts at least three times. He went for one treatment and could not take it. We went back the next week and counts were still too low. They then gave him Nulasta and said to come back in two two weeks. All total it has been 4-5 weeks since last treatment. We go back tomorrow. I can't help but wonder what this delay is doing to that little beast hiding in his liver.

He too, is seems so calm about everything. He is not one to express his inner feelings.

I wish you and Mark well. I know you are so worried. My prayers are with you both


Posts: 425
Joined: Jan 2005

Nice to hear from you- was wondering how Mark was doing...what drug is he on right now while waiting for his trial;??
My husbands counts have been low and once was delayed 3 times due to low platelets..there is nothing they can do about platelets but if it is his white blood cell couts he should be able to take neulasta to keep them up...you asked as to whether if they go down once... does that continue and from experience "they" say no...my husband had a really low WBC about 9 months ago..800 I think was the count (they worry at 1500) anyway that was a one time event...his counts came back up within a week or so.so hang in there and keep positive...what trial is Mark waiting for???
Take care

musiclover's picture
Posts: 242
Joined: Oct 2005

Thanks Bev, that and the other posts are so helpful. Mark is in Irinotecan for rectal cancer. The trial he's waiting for is a phase II trial of Erbitux and E7280, a drug so new there is not name for it. Thanks again for the input.

nudgie's picture
Posts: 1482
Joined: Sep 2006

I am currently on the FLOFOX regime of every other week for 6 months. I have had 6 treatments since 18 August 06 and have had to skip one treatment due to low WBC of 0.7. Took the Neulasta shot but this did not fair well with my body but it did bring my WBC count up enough to get another treatment. Went on 3 November for treatment and my WBC was 1.6. I also started a reduced dosage of FLOFOX by 20% on 20 October which I am hoping will also keep my WBC high enough to get another treatment. I also started to drink Orange Juice (this morning) to help my Immue System and eat more fruit and vegs.

Sending huges and kisses

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