Anemia affects approximately 5.6% of the population in the United States and develops as a result of an iron deficiency. Anemia is often an unfortunate side effect of the therapies used to combat cancer, but it can also be brought on by a number of other health conditions. Our team of cancer and blood experts offers iron infusions to their patients who are grappling with anemia. To learn more, call to request an appointment.

Anemia Q & A

What is anemia?
Anemia means that you don’t have enough healthy hemoglobin in your red blood cells, which compromises your body’s ability to deliver oxygen throughout your body.

The doctors at Charleston Oncology specialize in blood disorders, including anemia, which cancer, cancer-related treatments, pregnancy, and many other conditions that create an iron deficiency may cause.

When it comes to the old adage about things getting worse before they get better, sometimes treating cancer falls into this category. Because of the aggressive nature of many cancers, the treatments need to be equally as aggressive to successfully fight back. During the course of these treatments, including radiation and chemotherapy, serious side effects such as anemia can crop up as the protocols destroy cancer, as well as healthier cells.

While anemia is often a side effect of chemotherapy and radiation, cancer itself may bring on the condition.

Whether you’re struggling with anemia because of cancer or its treatment, pregnancy, or irregularities in your blood work uncovered an iron deficiency, the specialists at Charleston Oncology can help.

What are the symptoms of anemia?

Anemia typically develops gradually and, with time, the following symptoms may have an increasing effect on your overall health and wellness:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath, especially during activity (like climbing stairs)
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in your extremities
  • Pale skin, nails, and gums
  • Chest pain

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, and they’re only getting worse, you shouldn’t wait to mention this to a team member at Charleston Oncology.

How can anemia be treated?

If you suspect that you may have developed anemia, your doctor at Charleston Oncology can run some simple blood tests to confirm or rule out the condition, starting with a basic complete blood count (CBC). Further tests can root out the cause of the anemia, but sometimes the condition is simply labeled “anemia of chronic disease,” which is common for cancer patients, as well as those who suffer from kidney or heart disease.

If your doctor confirms anemia, Charleston Oncology offers iron infusions to raise the hemoglobin levels in your blood. In addition to these infusions, your doctor may recommend dietary changes that introduce more iron-rich foods into your daily diet, such as:

  • Leafy greens like spinach or kale
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beans and lentils
  • Whole-grain foods
  • Nuts, like cashews
  • Beef and chicken
  • Oysters
  • Turkey

Interestingly, your body absorbs two to three times more iron from animal sources than plant sources.

These foods, combined with the iron infusions, work well to bring your hemoglobin levels back up, restoring your strength and energy.

To determine whether anemia is affecting you, call Charleston Oncology to request an appointment.

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