One of the major problems faced by men on taxotere (chemotherapy) is anemia. Anemia is characterized as a low red blood cell count. It is often the cause of significant fatigue, another major complaint from men on chemotherapy.
Aranesp® and Procrit® are both synthetic versions of the naturally occurring hormone, erythropoietin, that stimulates red blood cell production. Aranesp® or Procrit® are normally administered every two to three weeks while on chemotherapy. Usually, they can safely maintain an adequate red-blood-cell production.
In addition to anemia, chemotherapy can also cause problems with the white blood cell (WBC) count. Sometimes, a man undergoing chemotherapy, will develop neutropenia (low WBC) which impairs the immune system and increases the risk of infection. Infections resulting from neutropenia can cause the further administration of taxotere to be delayed, require hospitalization or even death.
Neutropenia can be averted with judicious dosing of Taxotere (lower dosage more frequently) and the use of white blood cell growth factors, such as Neupogen®, Neulasta®, and Leukine®.
Although blood problems are common and significant in many instances they can be controlled by careful monitoring and tretment when needed.
Joel T. Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.