Low platelet count due to chemotherapy
- Important contacts for your child with cancer
- Children's Cancer Services in New Zealand
- Cancer diagnosis
- What is cancer?
- Tests for cancer
- Suggestions for successful parent / caregiver support before, during and after treatments
- Central venous catheters
- Cancer treatment
- Clinical trials
- Fasting and consent for procedures
- Side effects of chemotherapy
- Low blood count due to chemotherapy
- Low white cell count and infection
- Low white cell count and infection (continued)
- Low red blood cell count due to chemotherapy
- Low platelet count due to chemotherapy
- Sore mouth due to chemotherapy
- Nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy
- Loss of appetite due to chemotherapy
- Constipation due to chemotherapy
- Sun sensitivity due to chemotherapy
- Hair loss due to chemotherapy
- Fatigue due to chemotherapy
- Hand washing and hygiene
- Pain and childhood cancer
- Treatment of pain in childhood cancer
- Management of pain in childhood cancer
- Nutrition and childhood cancer
- Your child in hospital: The importance of play
- Your child in hospital: Techniques to help with treatments
- School and education when your child has cancer
- Support for the family of a child with cancer
- Going home from hospital after your child's cancer treatment
- Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in childhood cancer
- Long-term follow-up in childhood cancer
- Childhood cancer: Where to go for more information and support
Low platelet count due to chemotherapy
What do platelets do?
This fact sheet is part of a section about childhood cancer. To access the rest of the content in this section, see Childhood cancer.
Platelets prevent bleeding occurring in the body by forming clots.
What is thrombocytopenia?
A low platelet count is called thrombocytopenia.
Signs of a low platelet count are:
bleeding from the nose, gums or other parts of the body that doesn't stop with pressure applied for more than ten minutes
black bowel motions
vomit which may have specks of blood in it or which looks like ground coffee
What is the treatment for thrombocytopenia?
To correct a low platelet count or to help stop bleeding, a transfusion of platelets may be given.
If your child requires a transfusion of blood or blood product, your child's doctor or nurse will give you some information leaflets from the New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS).
NZ Blood Service information
The New Zealand Blood Service ensures the supply of safe blood products. It has the responsibility for a national blood transfusion process from the collection of blood from volunteer donors to the transfusion of blood products within the hospital environment. There are some leaflets for patients available at the NZ Blood Service website, including:
Your guide to blood transfusion - a selection for different products
General information for patients
What can I do to lessen the chance of bleeding?
use a soft toothbrush for your child's tooth cleaning. But, if your child has a sore mouth, you need to read the information about mouth care
use a lip balm to keep your child's lips moist and to prevent cracked lips
show your child how to blow their nose gently. If a nose bleed does occur, sit your child on a chair (not lying down) and pinch the soft part of the nostrils below the hard nasal bones for five minutes
explain to your child that they cannot take part in physical activities and sports that may result in bruising or injury
Which medicines must I not give my child?
Do not give any medicine without first discussing this with your doctor.
The following must not be given to children who are receiving chemotherapy:
aspirin and products containing aspirin
herbal products with anti-coagulant properties
Even small doses of these can stop normal clotting of the blood and bleeding can occur.
Give medicine for pain and fever only after discussion with your child's doctor.
Information on product labels may not be clear so check with your child's doctor.
Where to go for more information and support
All the fact sheets in the Childhood cancer section of this website have been written by health professionals who work in the field of paediatric oncology.They have been reviewed by the members of the National Child Cancer Network (NZ). Medical information is authorised by the National Child Cancer Network Clinical Leader.
© Paediatric Society of New Zealand and Starship Foundation 2005 – 2013
Printed on 20 June 2013. Content is regularly updated so please refer to www.kidshealth.org.nz for the most up-to-date version
DISCLAIMERThis fact sheet is for educational use only.
Please consult your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for your child.
Fact sheets are subject to copyright. In the interests of information sharing they may be copied but acknowledgement must be given to PSNZ and Starship Foundation.
© The Paediatric Society of New Zealand and Starship Foundation 2005 - 2012