Blood Loss

Author: OncoLink Team
Last Reviewed: August 7, 2018

Blood loss can be a result of any surgical procedure. Patients with cancer or a history of cancer treatment have a greater risk of significant blood loss during surgery. This increased risk may be due the location of the cancer or if there are changes to the way the blood clots. Clotting can be an issue for patients whose cancer has affected the organs that help with clotting. 

Excessive bleeding is the loss of more than 20% of the total blood volume. This can cause the body to go into shock, which can be a fatal condition. Blood transfusion is needed in these cases.

Management

Your surgeon will choose the least invasive procedure to reduce the risk of blood loss if need be. He or she may instruct you on activities to follow before and after the surgery. These activities commonly include avoiding aspirin (ASA) or anti-coagulant (blood-thinning) medications for a period of time before and after surgery. You may also be prescribed medications to treat anemia or a low platelet count. 

When to contact your care team

You should discuss your questions with your surgeon. After surgery, your surgeon will give you guidelines for monitoring bleeding and when to contact the hospital or surgeon

References

American Cancer Society. Blood Transfusions for People with Cancer. 2016. Found at: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/blood-transfusion-and-donation/what-are-transfusions.html

Indian Journal of Anaesthesia. Blood transfusion practices in cancer surgery. 2014. Found at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4260312/

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