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Platelet Transfusions

Platelets are cells that help to stop bleeding. Some cancers or cancer treatments can lead to low platelets and you may need a platelet transfusion.

Platelet transfusions

Platelets are cells in your blood which form clots to help stop bleeding. Cancer and some cancer treatments can reduce the number of platelets in the blood. This can increase your risk of bleeding and may cause:

nosebleeds
bruising
heavier periods
bleeding gums
other more serious problems.

If the number of platelets in your blood (your platelet count) is too low, doctors may recommend a platelet transfusion. Platelets come from people who donate their blood. You will need to sign a consent form to say you give permission for the doctors and nurses to give you a transfusion.

The platelets are given as a drip into a vein. This usually takes 15–30 minutes and can be done as an outpatient or as an inpatient. The new platelets have an effect straight away. Severe side effects are rare. All donated platelets are tested for infections or viruses. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your doctor or nurse.

Some people may need to be given platelets that have been treated with radiation. Your doctor will tell you if you need irradiated platelets.