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Pancytopenia (low blood count) after IMRT

Posts: 18
Joined: Dec 2012

Just found out I have Pancytopenia (low white,red,platelets). So bad that my heart isnt getting enough oxygen/blood, which is how I found this out, a trip to the ER with heart attack symptoms. Anyone else experienced this? My doctors never checked my blood levels, which seems annoyingly strange now. This can be caused by other (worse) things, but for now its assumed cause is the radiation. Radiation hits the bones, affects the bone marrows ability to do its thing (make / maintain the blood). At least thats my understanding so far.. Im a vegetarian, which apparently doesnt mix well with radiation. So im eating some meat now to help build up my blood levels. Im weak, short of breath easily, fatigue. Hopefully its temporary.

VascodaGama's picture
Posts: 3407
Joined: Nov 2010


David (dw055)


I am curious about your experience with Pancytopenia. It doesn’t surprise me to know that IMRT was the cause for your problem but the occurrence could well be set already before the starting of the treatment. RT could be just the inducer for all the symptoms you experienced.

Your story posted before (http://csn.cancer.org/node/251178#comment-1341799) indicates that you are very sensitive to radiation. The protocol was at the high end for common IMRT of 81Gy in 45 sections (approximately 1.8 Gy /dose, fraction) and even with a change at the mid of the treatment the RO did not manage to get it right. It could be that you had ulcerative colitis too but they did not check for its presence before recommending RT.
In any case radiation is a valid treatment option for prostate cancer but not without risks.


Your vegetarian diet could be the cause for your experience with pancytopenia too. It could be due to deficiency of vitamin B12 or folic acid. These are fundamentals for the body to produce sufficient healthy red and white blood cells. Here is an article on causes of the problem. Look for the links that you may think it associated to your symptoms.


Low fat diets are deadly. This is the opinion of dr. Myers in his video where it stresses that “..low fat diets are absolute disastrous…. Please don’t do a low fat diet…”;

I would recommend you to get the lipids checked and get the opinion from a nutritionist with regards to vitamin B12.

We had some cases of anemia in this forum that has succumbed to PCa.


I wish you find the real cause behind your problem and that you recover the soonest from the treatment.

Best wishes for complete success.

VGama  Wink

Posts: 18
Joined: Dec 2012

Thanks VGama, appreciate all the wisdom you share on here. I've concluded it was more my diet than radiation, or still possibly a combination of the two. I just started eating meats again (clean, organic, etc) and I gained 6 pounds in about 10 days and my blood counts all went from under the normal threshold, to near normal - although still at the lowest end of normal range.  Im a month out from completion of radiation. I originally thought that eating vegetarian (I was vegan + fish, eggs) would help control cancer, and maybe it did. Seems like it may have just made me too weak to fight it. In all fairness to vegetarianism - I was actually not eating much in general  towards the end of radiation because of the bowel difficulty - trying to eat soft, no meat, etc. to avoid pain. So that could have been part of it too.  Anyway, Im feeling much better now.

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