How about the risk of infection for senior patients undergoing chemo?
Seniors are infamously vulnerable to a broad spectrum of conditions – with neutropenia counting among them. A large percentage of seniors undergoing chemotherapy register a notable slump in their neutrophil count.
Compared to younger folks, elderly patients are inherently more susceptible to complications related to a drop in the white cell count that combats infection. Upon hospitalization, seniors tend to stay longer on their sickbeds compared to younger patients.
Let us shed a more realistic light on this, shall we?
Meet Mrs. Bett, a lovely senior, aged 68 years, and Mark, an enterprising 28-year guy. Both individuals have non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and are undergoing chemotherapy. Mrs. Bett – consequent of her advanced age – is significantly more vulnerable to suffering complications from other infections than the much younger Mark.
Now, depending on how consequential this is, the physician may be forced to abandon the chemotherapy if the elderly patient is swamped with infections.
Such chemotherapy would only be resumed when neutrophil levels start climbing up. Sadly, this cessation in chemotherapy (or a reduction in dosage) can trigger the increased progression of the cancer cells.
Why should you bother about neutropenia caused by chemotherapy?
We don’t mean to get you frantic, but you should be genuinely bothered about chemotherapy-induced neutropenia. When you experience neutropenia, erstwhile trivial infections that your immunity readily sends packing will become suddenly become more challenging to overcome.
For example, when a patient experiencing neutropenia suffers fever (an infection that your immunity will independently eradicate in the good old days), he may need intense hospitalization or being treated with intravenous antibiotics. This is to activate the required resurge in white blood cell count to fight off the disease.