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Chemotherapy and thrombocytopenia

      The most common reason that cancer patients experience thrombocytopenia is as a side effect of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy drugs in general cause bone marrow suppression. Bone marrow suppression leads to neutropenia, thrombocytopenia and anemia. Most people have more than 150,000 platelets per microliter of blood. Mild thrombocytopenia does not cause bleeding. The bleeding risk is high if the platelet count is less than 20,00. Even with this low platelet count thrombocytopenia ususlly does not cause massive bleeding into tissues (eg, deep visceral hematomas or hemarthroses), which is characteristic of bleeding secondary to coagulation disorder. Platelet activation occurs during bleeding and this is characterized by release of granules containing von Willebrand factor, adenosine 5'-diphosphate (ADP), and serotonin. When chemotherapy affects bone marrow, the body's ability to produce platelets, the bodys chief defense against bleeding, is diminished. The platelet count in the circulating blood is normally between 150 and 400 million per millilitre of blood (x109/L).

Outside resources
Drugs causing thrombocytopenia
Drugs causing neutropenia or agranulocytosis