Whether you develop a benign blood disorder because of cancer or had one before you were diagnosed with cancer, it can complicate your treatment. Hematology specialists at Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida are part of your cancer care team – no matter what type of cancer you have. They can skillfully manage these disorders if needed to support your care throughout your cancer treatment.

What are benign blood disorders?

Benign blood disorders include anemia, bleeding disorders and blood clots. They’re called benign because they are not cancerous and can be managed or resolved with treatment. These conditions also have no affect on life expectancy. Benign blood disorders can develop on their own, or they can occur as a complication of cancer treatment or as a secondary condition of some types of cancer.

 

Learn more about benign blood disorders

Anemia and Cancer

Anemia is when your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells. Red blood cells are important because they carry oxygen throughout your body.

Medical illustration depicting normal and anemic amount of blood cell. 

Anemia can occur with cancer treatment for several reasons. Those include:

  • Chemotherapy can affect your body’s ability to make red blood cells.
  • Radiation therapy can damage bone marrow, where red blood cells are produced.   
  • Cancer surgery can cause anemia through blood loss.
  • Some pre-existing conditions can increase your risk of developing anemia during cancer treatment.

The signs and symptoms of anemia may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Beating sound in the ears

Bleeding Disorders and Cancer

Bleeding disorders are when the body has trouble forming blood clots. The causes for a blood disorder may include a low number of blood platelets or blood clotting proteins (clotting factors), abnormal blood platelets, or abnormal blood vessels.

Liver cancer or cancer that has spread to the liver from another site can affect the production of clotting factors. Bleeding disorders can also be a side effect of chemotherapy or antiangiogenesis drugs (medicines that block the development of blood vessels that support tumor growth).

The signs of a bleeding disorder include:

  • Easy bruising
  • Excessive bleeding from minor scrapes or after surgery
  • Bleeding gums
  • Heavy menstrual periods

Blood Clots and Cancer

Blood clots are normally good. They stop blood loss and help injuries heal. Sometimes, though, blood clots can fail to go away once an injury has healed or form where there is no injury. These abnormal blood clots restrict blood circulation, causing swelling and pain.

When you have cancer, the genetic changes that contributed to the cancer, as well as chemotherapy, increase your risk for a blood clotting problem called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

A DVT, most often found in the leg, doesn’t always cause symptoms until it becomes serious. The signs and symptoms can include pain and swelling, red skin, and a warm feeling near the site of the blood clot.

A DVT can be life-threatening if it breaks loose and travels through the heart to the lungs. This is called a pulmonary embolism.

Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough that may produce blood
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness

How do cancer doctors manage benign blood disorders?

Before you begin treatment, we will ask you if you have a blood disorder or a family history of one. We will also do blood tests to check your blood cell counts and blood clotting ability. This information will reveal any unknown blood disorders and help us create a treatment plan that prevents blood complications.

Additional blood and imaging tests will be performed throughout your treatment to keep an eye on your blood counts and check for blood clots. Our goal is to find any complications early to minimize their effects on your cancer treatment.

Have questions? We're here to help.

Related News

Recent Cancer Research News