Bleeding (Low Platelet Count)

Cancer and related treatments can decrease the amount of platelets made in bone marrow. Platelets are partly responsible for blood clotting. If your platelet count falls too low or you have bleeding that won’t stop, your doctor may order a platelet transfusion.

Ways to Prevent Bleeding

  • Blow nose and cough as gently as possible. If a nosebleed cannot be stopped after 10 minutes, call the doctor or nurse.
  • Brush teeth with a soft toothbrush or oral sponge.
  • Check with the doctor or nurse before using enemas, suppositories, aspirin, ibuprofen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other over-the-counter medications.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent constipation.
  • Refrain from playing contact sports or engaging in other activities that could lead to injury.
  • Refrain from sex if the platelet count is less than 20,000.
  • Tell the doctor or nurse about heavy or prolonged flow during a menstrual cycle.
  • Use a water-based lubricant during sex.
  • Use an electric razor, scissors, needles, knives or and other sharp tools carefully.
  • Use feminine hygiene pads instead of tampons.

When to Call the Doctor

  • Bleeding from the gums, nose or elsewhere
  • Blood in the urine or stool, or black stools
  • Coughing up or vomiting blood
  • Excessive bruising
  • Headache or blurred vision
  • Increased menstrual flow
  • Tiny red spots on the skin