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Helper T Cell Rebound Following Chemotherapy
Jan 15, 2006

I recently completed a course of chemotherapy (2 cycles of Mytomycin C and 5FU) and radiation therapy (6 weeks) to treat squamous cell carcinoma. I have been HIV positive since 1985 and my CD4 levels have always been in the 500-600 range. Following my treatment, I was hospitalized because I was neutropenic. I was dismayed to see that my Helper Ts had dropped to 160. My ID doc has drawn my labs 3 times since the completion of my treatment (December 1, 2005) and they are still below 200. Is there a chance we will see my lab values return to their pre-treatment levels? If so, how long might it take? I have never been on any HIV medications and am reticent to start taking them.

Thanks a million.

Response from Dr. Holodniy

A reduction in CD4 counts is commonly seen with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Only time will determine whether you will get up to your pretreatment levels. It can take weeks to months to recover counts. I have seen it both ways in my practice. Some patients stay low and some will recover their counts.



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