Coping with Neutropenia in Childhood Cancer
Symptom Management, Palliative Care, or Supportive Care to relieve side-effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment and should always form part of the overall treatment plan.
Neutropenia is a low level of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell). All white blood cells help the body fight infection. Neutrophils are made in the bone marrow and fight infection by destroying harmful fungi, yeast or bacteria that invade the body.
Some level of neutropenia occurs in around 50% of individuals with cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy treatment, and it is a common side effect in those with leukaemia. If your child has neutropenia, pay close attention to their personal hygiene, such as hand washing, to lower their risk of infection.
Individuals who have neutropenia carry a higher risk of developing serious infections because they do not have enough neutrophils to destroy organisms that cause infection. Individuals with severe or long-lasting neutropenia are more likely to develop an infection.
Neutropenia itself may not cause any symptoms. Individuals usually find out they have neutropenia from a blood test or when an infection develops. Some people will feel more fatigued when they have neutropenia. Your child’s doctor may schedule regular blood tests to look for neutropenia and other blood-related side effects if they are undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
Any drop in neutrophil depends on the type or dose of chemotherapy. Neutrophil counts generally start to drop about a week after each round of chemotherapy begins and reach a low point called the nadir about 7 – 14 days after treatment. Your child is most likely to develop an infection at this point. Neutrophil levels will begin to rise again as your child’s bone marrow resumes normal production of neutrophils; it may take 3-4 weeks to reach a normal level again.
Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Neutropenia on our static page, Neutropenia in Childhood Cancer
Posted on 30 June, 2016, in Blog and tagged cancer, Child Cancer Awareness, childhood cancer, Children with Cancer, Fighting Cancer, Little Fighters Cancer Trust, Neutropenia, side effects. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.