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?
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)
- 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
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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Please join Charleston Oncology and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in support of National Survivor Month, celebrating those who have fought the disease and those currently in treatment.
June is National Cancer Survivor Month and throughout the month we are honoring our brave patients and sharing their inspirational stories.
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops when melanocytes (the cells that give the skin its tan or brown color) start to grow out of control. Watch the video to learn more about melanoma from Charleston Oncology’s Dr. Charles S. Holladay.
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. This month, Charleston Oncology recognizes the importance of spreading awareness surrounding the disease.