Common Questions

Are there risk with a bone marrow biopsy?

Are there risk with a bone marrow biopsy?

Risks associated Bone marrow exams do not usually pose any big risks. Complications are rare, however, as with any procedure; risks do exist that you should be aware of.

Excessive bleeding, especially in those with a low platelet count or on a blood thinner.

  • Breaking of needles within the bone, causing infection or bleeding.
  • Infection, especially in those with compromised immune systems.
  • Long lasting pain to biopsy site.
What can I expect after the procedure?

What can I expect after the procedure?

  • You may resume normal activity.
  • Keep the pressure bandage on for at least 24 hours.
  • Do not get the dressing wet for 24 hours, which means no showering or bathing.
  • A small amount of bleeding is normal
  • Avoid heavy lifting or exercise for the next 24 hours
  • You may remove the dressing the next day
  • You may take Tylenol for the soreness

Call the office for any swelling at the biopsy site, development of fever >100.4 F, increasing redness or drainage at the biopsy site, or worsening pain or discomfort.

What can I expect during the procedure?

What can I expect during the procedure?

The bone marrow exam typically takes about 15-20 minutes.

You will need to lie on your stomach, as the sample will be taken from your pelvis bone.

Your Physician or Nurse Practitioner will talk to you throughout the procedure.

When the Lidocaine is injected, you will feel a stinging sensation, then numbness to the area.

A biopsy needle will then be inserted into the bone marrow, and a syringe will be used to remove the liquid portion from the bone marrow. This will cause a sharp, brief pain sensation that will quickly pass.

A biopsy of the bone marrow will then be taken.

After the needle is removed, pressure will be applied for 5-10 minutes or until bleeding stops.

How do I prepare for the procedure?

How do I prepare for the procedure?

There is no preparation needed, as there are no restrictions. Take your usual medications. You may eat before the test.

If you have an allergy to Lidocaine, let your Physician or Nurse Practitioner know.

What is a bone marrow biopsy and aspiration?

What is a bone marrow biopsy and aspiration?

Bone marrow is spongy tissue found inside some of your large bones, such as your pelvis. They contain stem cells that turn into white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. A biopsy is the insertion of a needle to remove a small piece of tissue and blood from the bone marrow.

A bone marrow examination offers detailed information about the condition of your blood cells. Your bone marrow is the central place of where blood cells are formed, so an examination gives detailed information of the types, amount and condition of your blood cells. It specifically can be studied for the presence of:

  • Diseases involving the formation of blood cells
  • Cancer cells
  • Chromosome irregularitie
  • Iron storage
  • Monitor the effects of therapy such as chemo
What tests will be performed for chemotherapy?

What tests will be performed for chemotherapy?

The specific tests you need will be determined by your doctor. In general, blood tests are done on the day of treatment or up to a week beforehand. These include a complete blood count (CBC), chemistry profile and any necessary cancer markers. The CBC is repeated one to two weeks after treatment.

Monitoring the CBC is important because chemotherapy drugs often attack red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets since these cells divide rapidly like cancer cells. Tracking red blood cell (RBC), white blood cell (WBC), or platelet (PLT) counts helps your doctor assess how toxic the chemotherapy is to your body, estimate your risk of complications, and plan your therapy in the future.

Symptoms of reduced blood counts should be reported to your doctor immediately. These include:

  • Temperature of over 100.5º F
  • Congestion or a cold
  • Rash or blisters
  • Easily bruised skin
  • Signs of bleeding
  • Infected cut
  • Itching or burning in the genital area
  • Weakness, fatigue, or shortness of breath
Will chemotherapy make me lose my hair?

Will chemotherapy make me lose my hair?

Many chemotherapy drugs cause temporary hair loss. Depending on the type and dosage of the drug, this can be anywhere from a slight thinning to complete baldness that affects not only the scalp but also the eyebrows, eyelashes, armpits, legs and pubic area. Hair loss typically begins about two to three weeks after the start of treatment and reverses about two to three weeks after treatment is completed. The hair that regrows may be a different color or texture than before.

Many patients prepare for hair loss by cutting the hair, purchasing a wig, or trying hats and scarves before treatment starts. Insurance may cover the cost of a hairpiece. During chemotherapy, patients should protect the scalp with sunblock. As hair begins to grow back, it is important to avoid strong chemicals, bleach or coloring agents.

Will chemotherapy make me feel sick?

Will chemotherapy make me feel sick?

Most patients will experience some degree of nausea and vomiting after a chemotherapy treatment. Anti-nausea/anti-emetic medications during or after a treatment session can help.
What side effects can I expect?

What side effects can I expect?

The most common side effects of chemotherapy are low blood counts (anemia), nausea, vomiting, hair loss and fatigue. Low white blood cell count (neutropenia) is one of the most serious potential side effects of chemotherapy. It can lead to severe infections or treatment interruptions.

Your doctor will discuss with you the side effects you might expect from your particular course of chemotherapy.

Why do side effects arise, and how can they affect treatment?

Why do side effects arise, and how can they affect treatment?

Side effects arise because chemotherapy drugs cannot differentiate between cancer cells and rapidly dividing healthy cells. The drugs often attack normal tissues or organs, causing inconvenience, discomfort and even death. Side effects may be temporary or chronic, mild or life-threatening. If side effects prevent the administration of chemotherapy on schedule at the proper dosage, they can reduce the effectiveness of the treatment.

How often will I have chemotherapy treatments?

How often will I have chemotherapy treatments?

A course of chemotherapy usually comprises several cycles of treatment and rest. Your specific schedule will depend on the type of cancer and the drug combination being used. An individual treatment session may take a few minutes or a few hours. The treatment cycle may last anywhere from one day to one month or more, with treatments given daily or weekly. There are usually four to six treatment cycles.

How is chemotherapy given?

How is chemotherapy given?

Chemotherapy can be given in several ways, from a pill or an IV line to an injection into a vein or directly into the spinal fluid. Some kinds of chemotherapy are administered at a hospital or outpatient facility, while others can be given at home. For patients undergoing IV treatment, your doctor may recommend implanting a venous access device (VAD) to make it easier for both the patient and doctor to deliver the medicine at each appointment.

What kind of chemotherapy will I have?

What kind of chemotherapy will I have?

Your chemotherapy treatment will be decided upon based on numerous considerations, including:

  • Your diagnosis
  • The stage of your cancer
  • The expected behavior of the cancer
  • Where the cancer originated
  • Your age
  • Other medical problems you may have
  • Potential side effects
How does chemotherapy cancer treatment work?

How does chemotherapy cancer treatment work?

Chemotherapy drugs kill rapidly dividing cells in a variety of ways depending on how the cancer grows, the types of cells it affects, and the stage it has reached. Some drugs work by damaging the cells' DNA. Others prevent cells from dividing. Still others disrupt cell metabolism or other functions.
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