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Chemotherapy Related Blood Transfusions
Aug 18, 2002

I have KS and I'm getting Chemotherapy (Doxil). Now I need a blood transfusion and I wonder why and what it all means!

Response from Dr. Dezube

Doxil chemotherapy is very effective for Kaposi's sarcoma. One of the side effects of chemotherapy is that it can suppress the bone marrow from producing red cells. In turn, this creates anemia and the need for blood transfusions. It has been my experience that Doxil typically does NOT cause much in the way of anemia.

See how you do with the transfusions. If you continue to be anemic, your doctor may want to start Procrit (erythropoietin) which is a stimulant for the red cells. Procrit helps to ward off anemia. Also the HIV drug AZT/zidovudine/retrovir aggrevates anemia, particularly in the setting of chemotherapy. If you are on AZT/zidovudine and if there is an alternative anti-retroviral medication, then it may pay to have your regimen switched. AZT is also found in the medicines Combivir and Trizivir.

Lastly if you are having any systemic symptoms (fevers, chills, night sweats, weight loss), then I would be concerned that you might be having another cause for the anemia, such as an infection.

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