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What Is Anemia?

Anemia is a condition in which the body produces a lower than normal number of red blood cells. These cells are important because they contain hemoglobin, a substance that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. When you are anemic, because you have lower levels of hemoglobin, less oxygen is able to reach your muscles and organs. For some patients, having anemia may increase the chance of needing a blood transfusion.

Anemia may be a side effect of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy treatments are intended to target cancer cells that rapidly divide. But these treatments can also damage healthy cells. When the blood cells forming in your bone marrow are affected, the level of hemoglobin is reduced. When your hemoglobin drops below the normal level, you are diagnosed with anemia.

Talk to your doctor if you think you could be anemic. Only your doctor can determine if you have anemia and decide the course of treatment that is right for you.