Blood Transfusion Overview
People with cancer might need blood transfusions because of the cancer itself. For example:
Orthodox cancer treatments may also lead to the need for blood transfusions:
Blood transfusions sometimes cause transfusion reactions. There are several types of reactions and some are worse than others. Some reactions happen as soon as the transfusion is started, while others take several days or even longer to develop.
These reactions are often the body’s response to white blood cells in the donated blood. They are more common in people who have had transfusions before and in women who have been pregnant several times. Other types of reaction can also cause fever, and further testing may be needed to be sure that the reaction is only febrile.
Patients who have had febrile reactions or who are at risk for them are usually given blood products that areleukoreduced. This means that the white blood cells have been removed by filters or other means.
Many precautions are taken before a transfusion is started to keep reactions from happening. The blood type of the unit is checked many times, and the unit is cross-matched to be sure that it matches the blood type of the person who will get it. After that, both a nurse and blood bank lab technician look at the information about the patient and the information on the unit of blood (or blood component) before it’s released. The information is double-checked once more in the patient’s presence before the transfusion is started.