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what exactly does low red blood cells mean?

Posts: 548
Joined: Nov 2009

My bloodwork showed a low red cell count, sending me for MRI---but, what do the cells indicate. Right now I am to eat more protein, especially red meat. And waiting to hear about the tumor markers.

pinkflutterby's picture
Posts: 615
Joined: Jun 2009

never have been sent for a MRI from them but have been given a shot for them and been told to eat more red meat. I know the red and white cells are effected by the chemo drugs. When the white is low you are more likely to get sick from low ammune system.

Posts: 69
Joined: Jan 2011

Anemia is red. Immunity is White. Neulasta is a shot given after chemo that helps boost cell developement after the chemo kills (funny my fingers typed kiss instead) your cells.

Posts: 548
Joined: Nov 2009

The MRI is for a "mass" on, or is, the xiphoid. The ultrasound wasn't really conclusive I guess.

jessiesmom1's picture
Posts: 872
Joined: Jun 2010

Red blood cells carry oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. A complete blood count (CBC) is a blood test used to check your blood count.The RBC, hemoglobin and hematocrit tests are tests to see if you have a low red blood count.

What is "normal" varies slightly from lab to lab but normal for adult women is as follows: RBC 4.2-5.4 m/ul; hemoglobin (Hgb)12-16 g/dl; hematocrit (hct) 37-47%.

When you have a low red blood cell count (oh so common during chemo)you may feel fatigued, weak, short of breath,have an increased heart rate and feel dizzy/lightheaded if you get up quickly.

To help manage a low red blood count make sure you have a diet with plenty of protein and vitamins. Also drink plenty of non-caffeinated (sorry for the coffee drinkers) and non-alcoholic beverages. Doctors will sometimes prescribe Procrit, Aranesp,iron supplements, multivitamins and in severe cases, a blood transfusion.

During most of my own chemo treatments my hemoglobin hovered between 9.8 and 10.2 which is definitely low by any standard. The oncologist was not overly concerned but said if I ever got close to an Hgb count of 8 I would be getting a blood transfusion. I am lucky that it never got to that. Despite a low red blood count I never missed a single infusion.

I hope this info has been of some help. Good luck.

Posts: 548
Joined: Nov 2009

You are very informative.... :) ......I wonder why --about the no caffeine, though. We bought some deli roast beef for lunch the next two days---trying to increase the red meat.

linpsu's picture
Posts: 747
Joined: Mar 2010

My red blood cell count got below 8 - I had 2 blood transfusions during my chemo. It wasn't any different than getting the chemo, and I felt so much better after getting all that new blood! Before the transfusions, I could barely function. Hugs, Linda

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