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Blood Counts

nudgie's picture
Posts: 1483
Joined: Sep 2006

Finished my 3rd Chemo (FLOFOX Regime) on 15 Sept 06. My blood counts are still within the normal range except for my Red Cells which are at 3.92 and my Neutrophi is at 1.8. I know these will again decrease but was wondering how low some docs allow your counts to get before taking proactive approach.

I currently keep track of my counts on a spreadsheet and look at these BEFORE each treatment with my doctor.

QUESTION: Will doctors normally give the growth hormone for red and white counts if requested by the patient or do they normally wait until the low point?

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

My treating onc (whom I no longer have, BTW) was from the minimalist school of medicine....I didn't get anything until one day, after a blood test, I was working...phone rang...I was asked "So, are you around alot of people today?". "yes", I responded. "Well, maybe you should finish up and go home...your white count is .7". That said, during my chemo for the subsequent breast cancer, she knew my low counts already, and so started both BEFORE the trouble...Neulasta and Procrit.....
Ask, and, BTW, you are doing what I tell many to do...keep all labs, etc...manage your treatment, but don't insist...just be aware...

Hugs, Kathi

Posts: 708
Joined: May 2004

Ask your doc what threshold they have before they start the meds. I needed procrit (for anemia) with 2 chemo treatments, but not the others. Your body will react differently to everything.

The docs look at hemoglobin and hematocrit for anemia and Absolute Neutrophil Count for white blood cell levels.

Simply ask your doc when they start injections - so you will know. The docs wait for patients to reach certain levels. Some patients level off above this point - so not all patients need the medicine. AND - every medicine has potential side effects (some are few) but you should never take a med unless you need it. That being said, you shouldn't wait until you need it so badly that your health is in danger. Have a conversation with the treating doctor - it is your body, but you need to make informed decisions. If you disagree with the doc, talk to another one. Continue to question the entire process... people are human and make mistakes - even doctors.

Best of luck.


JADot's picture
Posts: 720
Joined: Jan 2006

Don't worry, there's a well subscribed-to protocol which all oncs go by. They'll know when to give you that shot of Nupogen or Epogen.

My white cells and nutrophils dropped a couple of times, and I had to get nupogen. But after that, I gave up the vegetarian diet and started to eat a lot more high quality protein, eggs and organic chicken, my blood got healthy and stayed healthy for the remainder of the chemo. So make sure you eat enough.

I don't think Nupogen and Epogen are technically growth hormones. They make your stem cells to convert to white blood cells or red blood cells faster/more than usual. Can you ask for it if your doc has not prescribed it? I think this is something you should discuss w/ your doc.

But I truly believe that a healthy, nourishing diet with lot of protein will help more than the drugs.

Best of luck to you!

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