My 52 year old husband was diagnosed this past June with stage III inoperable pancreatic cancer (mass encasing sm vein). The only surgery he had was a gastric jejunostomy since the mass was also pressing on his stomach. He went through 8 weeks of chemo (5fu) and radiation, took 2 months off to rest and now started his second round of chemo (gemzar) last Monday. When we went yesterday for the 2nd treatment, after doing the bloodwork, they said the chemo had to be stopped due to very low white blood count (1.2) and red blood count (0.07). What can be done to raise the blood count? and will not having the chemo make the cancer worse? and is there any other treatment that might work better than Gemzar? Any help would be greatly appreciated since we don't know what else to do or where to turn. Our doctor doesn't seem to be of much help except for gemzar.
The low blood counts (leucopenia, anemia) are secondary to the chemotherapy. One of the side effects of gemcitabine (gemzar) treatment is myelosuppression. It can affect the white blood cell, platelets, and red blood cell.
Colony stimulating factor like filgrastim and lenograstim can help raise the white blood cell count. Erythropoietin injection can help increase the hemoglobin level.
Once the counts improve, chemotherapy can be restarted. Dose reduction can be done in cases of severe adverse effects.
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