Treatment for anemia depends on the type and severity.

Anemia occurs when you have a lower number of healthy red blood cells, most of which are made in your bone marrow. Specifically, anemia affects the amount of hemoglobin—the protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen to your body.

Anemia is not cancer. But it can be caused by common cancer treatments such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy. We treat it with an integrated team of hematologists (specialists who focus on disorders that affect the blood and related structures) and oncologists, who treat cancer.

Newly diagnosed?

Contact the cancer team 24/7 by calling (888) 777-4167 or request an appointment online.

Types of anemia

There are several types of anemia. But they can be classified into many major groups, based on the cause:

  • Nutritional deficiency: This can be a deficiency in iron, B12 (known as pernicious anemia) or folate (B9).
  • Body doesn’t make enough red blood cells: This is known as aplastic anemia, a condition that can be inherited or caused by some toxic chemicals or cancer treatments.
  • Abnormal red blood cells: This includes sickle cell disease, which is a condition that changes the shape of red blood cells, affecting their function and leading to anemia.
  • Destruction of red blood cells: These are known as hemolytic anemias and can either be inherited or acquired.

Anemia symptoms

Mild anemia may not have any symptoms. When there are symptoms, these can include:

  • Weakness or feeling tired
  • Mental cloudiness
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased thirst

Anemia diagnosis

To diagnose anemia, your doctor will get a complete medical history, and discuss your potential risk factors. They’ll also order one or more blood tests. The most common is a complete blood count:

  • This test is often done as part of a routine health checkup.
  • It measures several different parts of your blood, including your red blood cell count.
  • But it also measures specific substances that are in your red blood cells, such as hemoglobin.
  • In addition, this test measures how much space your red blood cells take up in your blood (hematocrit) and the average size of these cells (mean corpuscular volume or MCV).

Your doctor also may order additional blood tests to measure the levels of key nutrients such as iron, B12 and folate.

Anemia treatment

The specific treatment will depend on the type of anemia and the severity. Mild cases may not require treatment, only close observation to ensure it doesn’t progress. For more serious cases, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following:


Cookie Consent

We use cookies to improve your web experience. By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use. Read our Internet Privacy Statement to learn what information we collect and how we use it.

Accept All Cookies