Health Questions and Answers

Question: What are the causes of anemia in patients with cancer?


Anemia in cancer patients is often multifactorial. Anemia may result from blood loss due to bleeding from tumors or from gastritis due to the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs). It may also be caused by hemolysis (secondary to antibodies associated with the tumor), disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), sepsis, or a paraneoplastic syndrome. Anemia is frequently caused by bone marrow suppression by chemotherapy or by marrow involvement by the tumor.

Reference: Tannock IF, Hill RP (eds): The Basic Science of Oncology, 3rd ed. New York, McGraw-Hill, 1998

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