Anemia means you have a low red blood cell count or your red blood cells don’t have enough hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. If you’re anemic, you might experience the following:

  • weakness
  • feeling tired/fatigued
  • cold
  • dizziness
  • crankiness

You may bruise easily and may bleed more or longer than normal. You also might have frequent nosebleeds.

Anemia can be caused by breast cancer treatments:

  • chemotherapy:
    • Abraxane (chemical name: albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel)
    • Gemzar (chemical name: gemcitabine)
    • Halaven (chemical name: eribulin)
  • some targeted therapies:
    • Enhertu (chemical name: fam-trastuzumab-deruxtecan-nxki)
    • Herceptin (chemical name: trastuzumab)
    • Ibrance (chemical name: palbociclib)
    • Kadcyla (chemical name: T-DM1 or ado-trastuzumab emtansine)
    • Lynparza (chemical name: olaparib)
    • Phesgo (chemical name: pertuzumab, trastuzumab, and hyaluronidase-zzxf)
    • Talzenna (chemical name: talazoparib)
    • Verzenio (chemical name: abemaciclib)
  • immunotherapy:
    • Keytruda (chemical name: pembrolizumab)
    • Tecentriq (chemical name: atezolizumab)

Managing anemia

Medications like Epogen (chemical name: epoetin alfa), Aranesp (chemical name: darbepoetin alfa), and Procrit (chemical name: epoetin alfa) can help your body make more red blood cells. Talk to your doctor to see if a medicine like that might be right for you. You can also ask your doctor if an iron supplement would help you.

To help increase your body’s iron levels and ease anemia, try to eat foods that are rich in iron:

  • spinach
  • peanuts, peanut butter, or almonds
  • lean beef
  • eggs
  • fortified cereal
  • lentils

Also try to eat foods that are rich in vitamin B12:

  • liver (cooked)
  • clams (cooked)
  • vitamin-fortified cold cereal
  • wild caught rainbow trout (cooked)
  • sockeye salmon (cooked)

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