Last Modified: January 24, 2012
What is meant by nadir and neutropenic?
Carolyn Vachani, RN, MSN, AOCN, OncoLink Nurse Educator, responds:
These are 2 terms used to describe levels of blood cells in the body. The nadir is the time point after cancer treatment when your blood counts (white blood cell, hemoglobin and platelets) are at their lowest. This is the time when we are most concerned about complications of low counts; including infection risk (due to low white blood cell count), bleeding risk (due to low platelet count), poor oxygen delivery to tissues which can cause fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness (due to low hemoglobin, also called anemia). The nadir most commonly occurs 10-14 days after chemotherapy treatment, but this time can vary depending on the chemotherapy and schedule you are on, so ask your oncology team when your nadir is expected.
Neutropenic is a low level of a specific type of white blood cell called a neutrophil. These are the most important of all the white blood cells when it comes to fighting infection, so we specifically monitor them when low white blood cell count is an issue.
This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Interpreting Test Results transcript.