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Concerned about my Iron deficiency and Chemo

Paige Besmir
Posted by

In early 2017, I was diagnosed with stage 4 rectal cancer which has metastasised in the liver.  The liver is inoperable.  Since then, I have been receiving several chemotherapy drugs which are Folfiri and Cetuximab. 

Although the chemo is no longer reducing the cancerous cells, I am currently stable and my consultant has agreed that we continue with this medication to maintain my condition.  I have always responded well to chemo and had minimal side effects, but this time I was unable to receive treatment because my white blood cell count had gone down to 0.5.  Furthermore, when I told them that I had been experiencing bouts of dizziness, they discovered that my iron saturation was only 5%.  I had a monofer transfusion 3 days ago, but haven’t noticed any improvement.  I am still really dizzy.  I have also been taking some antibiotics for an infection, but I still feel really dizzy, rundown and tired – really not myself.  I am due to have chemo tomorrow and I’m really concerned that I might not be able to handle it.  Although my white blood cell count has gone up to 8 as of a couple of days ago, should I be worried about my low iron saturation?  What should it be before I consider having chemo again?  Should I be asking for regular transfusions? 

Any thoughts/information you can give me would be really appreciated.

Thank you very much.

Josie - Macmillan
Posted by

Hi Paige,

Thank you for getting in touch with us. It sounds like you’ve had a tough time recently.

Before you get chemo, your bloods will be checked to see if they are at an appropriate level. Sometimes your bloods can be low while you’re on chemo. Each doctor will go by different levels.

It’s important you tell the medical team how you have been feeling the last few days. If they feel that your iron levels are still low they may give you another transfusion or they may start you on iron tablets.

I hope all goes well for you. 

If you’d like to talk things through with one of the nurses, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’re here 7 days a week, from 8am till 8pm.

Best wishes

Josie – Cancer Information Nurse Specialist.