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What Are the Pros and Cons of Blood Transfusion for Cancer?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 May 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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In most cases, a blood transfusion for cancer is not necessary, but when it is, the primary benefit is that it is a life-saving procedure for those who do need it. It is rarely used for normal cancer treatments, but some patients may find it beneficial when certain surgeries are needed or for the treatment of anemia. Each patient should ask about the risk factors as well as the potential benefits of transfusion before undergoing the procedure.

The use of a blood transfusion for cancer is generally performed after a procedure or surgery which results in severe blood loss for the patient, and sometimes in the treatment of certain blood cancers which lead to anemia and lack of red blood cell production. Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments may also lead to the need for a blood transfusion because they kill healthy blood cells as well as cancerous cells.

One of the main benefits of a blood transfusion for cancer is that, when used for patients who have lost a lot of blood during surgery, it is the only option to increase the chances for patient survival. Without a transfusion, these patients run the risk of bleeding to death, especially those whose bodies are not capable of replenishing their blood supplies on their own.

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Another benefit of using a blood transfusion for cancer is that it can reduce fatigue and malaise in cancer patients who suffer from severe anemia. Not only are low red blood cell levels harmful for human health, but patients who have low blood iron or platelets often feel very tired most of the time and are unable to focus or complete daily tasks. For these individuals, a blood transfusion is often the best choice.

Some downsides to having a blood transfusion for cancer is that there are slight risks associated with the procedure. Occasionally, blood infected with certain infections or diseases will be used by mistake, thus infecting the recipient. This is very rare now that all blood is adequately screened before use.

Requiring a blood transfusion rarely has complications during the procedure itself, but pain and sometimes infection may occur. It can also be an expensive treatment, especially when more than one transfusion is needed. This can quickly add thousands to a patient’s medical bills, which can put a greater strain on finances and increase stress levels for both patients and their families.

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