The following information is based on the general experiences of many prostate cancer patients. Your experience may be different. If you have any questions about what prostate cancer treatment services are covered by your health insurance, please contact your health care provider or health insurance provider. This education material was made possible by a Grant from the California Department of Justice, Antitrust Law Section, from litigation settlement funds to benefit Californians diagnosed with cancer or their families.
When you have chemotherapy (key-mo-ther-a-pee) to control your prostate cancer, you may have side effects or unwanted changes in your body. Side effects are different from person to person, and may be different from one treatment to the next. Some people have no or very mild side effects. The good news is that there are ways to deal with most of the side effects. You will learn:
It is important for you to learn how to manage the side effects you may have from chemotherapy so that you can keep doing as many of your normal activities as possible.
Your blood is made up of three kinds of blood cells:
Anemia is when you do not have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body. Your body needs fuel to run, just like a car. The oxygen your red blood cells carry is the fuel your body needs to stay active.
Anemia is a very common side effect or unwanted change in your body that can happen when you have chemotherapy to control your prostate cancer. Anemia happens because the anticancer medicines you take can affect the healthy cells in your body, including your blood cells. The anemia you may get from your chemotherapy treatment can cause you to feel tired or short of breath when you are active. This may make you feel frustrated and hopeless. You are not alone. Anemia caused by chemotherapy treatment will get better. Your red blood cell count should go back to normal when your treatment is over. The important thing to remember is that anemia caused by your chemotherapy can be treated.
Some signs of anemia are:
If you have any of these signs talk to your doctor or health care team. If your doctor finds that you have anemia, there are medicines and treatments that can help you feel better. It is important that you talk to your doctor or health care team about any side effects you may have during or after your treatment. Your health care team can help treat these problems.
During your chemotherapy treatment your doctor will ask you to have blood tests. These blood tests tell your doctor how your body is doing. When you have a blood test, a nurse or technician will take a small amount of blood from your arm with a needle. The blood tests will tell your doctor if your red blood cell count is low. If your red blood cell count is too low, your doctor may stop your chemotherapy until your red blood cell count is higher. The good news is that anemia caused by your chemotherapy is treatable.
Your doctor may give you medications to treat your anemia. Your doctor may also order a blood transfusion for your anemia. A blood transfusion is when you are given red blood cells donated by another person. The blood that you are given is tested to make sure that it is healthy. When you have a blood transfusion a bag (or unit) of blood is given to you through an I.V. (a plastic tube going into a vein in your arm which gives you any fluids or medicine you might need). A blood transfusion will help your body until it can make more red blood cells.
Just as every cancer patient’s treatment is different, how anemia affects each person is also different. However, there are things you can do to help deal with this treatment side effect.
Plan For Managing Your Anemia
You should call your doctor if you:
If you have any of these signs talk to your doctor or health care team. There are medicines and treatments that can help you feel better. It is important that you talk to your doctor or health care team about any side effects you may have during or after your treatment. Your health care team can help treat these problems.
You learned about:
If you have any questions, please talk to your doctor or health care team. It is important that you understand what is going on with your prostate cancer treatment. This knowledge will help you take better care of yourself and feel more in control so that you can get the most from your treatment.