Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Bleeding & clotting

Decreased platelets (thrombocytopenia)

Cancer treatment can cause low blood platelet count, or thrombocytopenia. Platelets control bleeding and promote clotting. Decreased levels of platelets during cancer treatment can affect the ability of blood to clot and cause bleeding. An abnormal platelet count is 30 or below.

Fortunately, platelet levels usually return to normal following the completion of chemotherapy. If you experience bleeding, it is important to contact your doctor right away.

Tips for decreasing the possibility of bleeding

  • Protect skin from irritation and cuts. Use an electric razor when shaving. Use an emery board rather than a nail file. Wear loose-fitting clothing.
  • Protect the mouth and gums from irritation and cuts. Eat soft, bland foods and use a soft toothbrush.
  • Prevent dry, chapped lips by using cocoa butter or lip balm.
  • Prevent nosebleeds by gently blowing your nose. Use a room humidifier to increase moisture in the air. Apply Vaseline to the inner nostrils to keep them moist if needed. If a nosebleed occurs, apply ice to the bridge of the nose and/or back of the neck.
  • Prevent constipation by drinking eight glasses of liquids each day. Increase the amount of fiber, fruits and vegetables in your diet. Use bulk laxatives or stool softeners when ordered by your doctor.
  • Avoid contact sports or other activities that result in injury. Wear a helmet when appropriate to avoid head injuries.
  • Be careful getting in or out of cars, bathtubs or showers.
  • Do not rush up and down stairs.
  • Be careful when using sharp instruments or tools.
  • Prevent rectal irritation by avoiding the use of enemas, suppositories, harsh laxatives or thermometers.
  • Do not lift or carry heavy objects.
  • Limit the use of alcohol or aspirin unless prescribed by your doctor.

NOTE: This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to making decisions about your treatment.