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Home > Resources > Disease Specific Info > Chemo-Related Anemia Guide

Many people think tiredness during chemotherapy is normal. But tiredness and fatigue could be signs of a larger problem: anemia. In fact, 7 out of 10 chemotherapy patients develop anemia during the course of their therapy.

The Link Between Chemotherapy and Anemia
If you are noticing that you do not have the energy to do the things you used to do before chemotherapy, and you are feeling more tired than usual, you might be anemic.

As you may already know, chemotherapy eliminates cancer cells. However, chemotherapy can also attack healthy red blood cells (RBCs) and negatively impact your body's ability to produce red blood cells. A lack of red blood cells can cause anemia. Anemia is one of the most common and most lasting side effects of chemotherapy. Anemia places extra demands on your body and can cause excessive tiredness or fatigue.

Common symptoms of anemia include:
  • Extreme tiredness, fatigue
  • Lack of energy
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Diminished sex drive
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Paleness
  • Shortness of breath
Coping with Anemia-Related Fatigue
The anemia associated with chemotherapy can cause feelings of tiredness and fatigue that may interfere with everyday activities and leave you feeling frustrated and hopeless. You're not alone. Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of anemia. Seventy-eight percent of chemotherapy patients experience fatigue. The good news is that anemia associated with chemotherapy is treatable.

Talk to Your Doctor
Your doctor may tell you to expect to feel tired during the course of your chemotherapy. And while some loss of energy can be expected, if you are experiencing extreme tiredness or fatigue, you need to talk to your doctor.

Anemia associated with chemotherapy is a real and treatable medical condition. Talk to your doctor to find out whether you may be anemic and learn about the treatment options that may help restore your energy.

Take the Could You Be Anemic? quiz (see Helpful Tools page) to find out if anemia and related fatigue are affecting your life and then discuss the results with your doctor.

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