Decreased Platelets (Thrombocytopenia)
Decreased levels of platelets during cancer treatment may cause bleeding. An abnormal platelet count is 30 or below. Platelets control bleeding and promote clotting. Platelet levels usually return to normal following the completion of chemotherapy. If bleeding occurs during a hospital stay, the cancer patient and/or family member should immediately contact the nurse. If uncontrolled bleeding occurs at home, please call the healthcare provider.
Decreasing the Possibilities of Bleeding
To decrease the possibilities of bleeding, cancer patients should:
- Protect skin from irritation and cuts. Use an electric razor when shaving. Use an emery board rather than a nail file. Wear loose fitting clothing.
- Protect mouth and gums from irritation and cuts. Eat soft, bland foods and use a soft toothbrush.
- Prevent dry, chapped lips by using cocoa butter or petroleum jelly (Vaseline) on the lips.
- Prevent nosebleeds by gently blowing the nose. Use a room humidifier to increase moisture in the air. Apply Vaseline to the inner nostrils to keep them moist if needed. If a nosebleed occurs, apply ice to the bridge of the nose and/or back of the neck.
- Prevent constipation by drinking eight glasses of liquids each day. Increase the amount of fiber, fruits and vegetables in the diet. Use bulk laxatives or stool softeners when ordered by the physician.
- Rest when tired.
- Avoiding contact sports or other activities that result in injury. Wear a helmet when appropriate to avoid head injuries. Be careful getting in or out of cars, bathtubs or showers. Do not rush up and down stairs. Be careful when using sharp instruments or tools.
- Prevent rectal irritation by avoiding the use of enemas, suppositories, harsh laxatives or thermometers.
- Do not lift or carry heavy objects.
- Limit the use of alcohol or aspirin unless prescribed by the physician.
This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. A cancer patient should always seek the advice of his or her physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment.