Anaemia is a low number of red blood cells. Many people with cancer will have anaemia at some point during their illness. This is called being anaemic. It can be due to the cancer or caused by cancer treatment. The treatment could be chemotherapy, radiotherapy and sometimes surgery.
Red blood cells contain a protein called haemoglobin (Hb), which carries oxygen around the body. If the number of red blood cells in your blood is low, you may feel very tired and have little energy. You may also become breathless.
If you have symptoms of anaemia or are having cancer treatment, you will have a blood test called a full blood count (FBC). This checks your haemoglobin level. If your haemoglobin level is low, your doctors may recommend that you have a blood transfusion.
The normal haemoglobin level is:
- 130–180 grams per litre of blood (g/L) for a man
- 115–165 grams per litre of blood (g/L) for a woman.