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Fatigue and AnemiaFatigue and Anemia
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Chemo and Anemia
Oct 13, 2003

Hi Dr. Bob:

Have been poz for 3 years and being treated for KS for the past 2 by chemo (Started with Doxyl, switched to Taxol, bad reaction with Doxyl) My Dr. said I am a little anemic, not "horribly" but enough (sorry, don't have the number) but I wondered if this would be why I become VERY short of breath when doing "simple exertions" ie:running up the stairs, playing tennis (I feel like I am sucking air)and just overall tired. I am on Depo Testosterone 1cc/week I believe. Other meds include Ziagen, Epivir, Viramune. Any thoughts?

Thanks! TGS

Response from Dr. Frascino


"Any thoughts?" Sure lots! Both HIV, as well as cancer chemotherapy, can cause anemia. Call the doctor and check your hemoglobin numbers. The low end of the normal range for men is 14 g/dL (12 g/dL for women). Certainly your symptoms of fatigue, shortness of breath on exertion, and exercise intolerance are quite classic for anemia. It's nice to know it's not "horrible," but certainly it must be significant enough if your doctor commented on it.

Is he treating your anemia? If not, he certainly should be! The treatment of choice would be Procrit. Procrit is a medication that you self-inject once per week. It stimulates the production of additional new red blood cells in your bone marrow, -- the red blood cell manufacturing plant. Procrit has been studied extensively in cancer patients and HIVers. It has been demonstrated to be remarkably effective in treating HIV-related anemia as well as anemia resulting from cancer chemotherapy. It corrects anemia, improves energy levels, and enhances quality of life. There is even an association with improved survival!

So, is it worth getting your "not horrible" anemia treated? Well, as Police Lieutenant Marge Gunderson put it so elegantly in the movie, "Fargo," "Ya, you betcha'!"

Get treated, get energized, and get back to the tennis court. Pete Sampras retired this year. We can't have you off the circuit as well, now can we?

Dr. Bob

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