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Blood test didn't qualify for chemo

Cosette24
Posts: 14
Joined: Jun 2020

Hello all, 

my husband is currently going through adjuvant chemo after his surgery that took all of his cancer out. He was supposed to be going for his third round (out of 4) next week, but after his blood test, the nurse called and told us to come back in another week to repeat the blood test as his blood didn't qualify him for chemo so soon. She didn't tell us why though. I know last time his white blood cells were quite low so we are guessing it's probably that. I am worried though and unsure what it means. Will delaying it make chemo any less effective? What if it's too low again next week? Are there any ways to bring white blood cells up?

Thank you for any advice.

Tom M.
Posts: 151
Joined: May 2019

First off this is not uncommon. WBC are produced in the bone marrow. Some people take a little longer to make new white cells. If they get too low you lose your resistance to fight off infections. They don't want that to happen. Tell your husband to enjoy the week off from chemo. Stay positive, they should be up enough soon.

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6528
Joined: Feb 2009

That is very common and happened to me after having received 4 rounds, and every treatment after that was postponed.  They gave me neupogen which stimulates the growth of white blood cells but can make every bone in your body ache.  If it wasn't for that, it would be very difficult for me to continue treatment.  Your husband will be fine with a week delay.  It will give his body extra time to gain strength.

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 5193
Joined: Jan 2013

This is quite the journey and you learn something new all the time.  I'm still learning, and I am six years out. 

Just know that your husband (and you) can ask the Oncologist & their nurses any and all questions that concern you. I would call back and ask just what has caused the posponement of this round of chemo. While it is probalby one of the usual things - low white, red or platelets - it will be a load of your mind to know exactly which one it is. 

I had all three happen to me during chemo - white, red, platelets, and here I am, six years out and Stage IV, so it doesn't seem to have made any difference missing the chemo treatments for those weeks. 

Tru

Cosette24
Posts: 14
Joined: Jun 2020

We tried asking the nurse, but she said she didn't know and was just told by the doctor that his blood didn't qualify and he has to redo it next week. I kind of hate how the hospital works. It's difficult to find out anything unless we are physically there. I've calmed down a bit now though knowing that this is quite common. My husband hasn't been having a lot of chemo side effects so that's why I am surprised his bloodwork wasn't very good. 

Thank you for your replies everyone.

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 5193
Joined: Jan 2013

At the end of the day, you are paying your Oncologist and thus, if you want to know why chemo is cancelled, then you should be allowed to talk to the Oncologist or have the nurse go and find out.  

If it is the white blood count that is low, you need to know, because the immune system is compromised and he could pick up the slightest infection, virus, crud, and so I personally think it is important for him to stay clear of people, especially with all this COVID around. 

Just my opinion, of course, but if it were me, I would be politely asking why and waiting for the answer. 

Tru

 

NewHere's picture
NewHere
Posts: 1197
Joined: Feb 2015

You have a right to know why chemo is cancelled. You may not get an answer right away depending on if someone has to check, but someone should get back to you pretty quickly with an answer.  I have been really lucky.  Except for one nurse who was really a nasty human, and I only dealt with her once, my doctors and all the staff have been really responsive.  I am at MSK and there is a patient portal.  The general thing is it can take up to two days to get a response.  Usually I get a response or phone call within hours.  If it is a question that someone needs to check, they will email me back and say just that - "I need to check with so and so and will get back to you."  As a cancer patient it ticks me off when other patients cannot get treated in a courteous manner and provided information.  Sure someone may have a bad day, that happens, but when you are dealing with people who have cancer, they should check the attitude.  I will now step down from the soapbox.  Sorry :)

Usually it is because of low white blood cell count.  The other item that ties into that is Absolute neutrophil (Abs Neut or ANC also short hand.)  That number also ties into whether someone is more susceptible for infection.  There are others things in blood work that would cause a time-out, but it is often those.  I had that happen a couple of times.  Delayed one of my FOLFORI treatments after the first one, but then FOLFORI worked for another year or so (was my second line treatment)  and the Lonsurf in the other thread I posted also had the same issue, after the first round my WBC and ABS Neu were so low needed a neulasta shot and postponed treatment a week.  

 

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