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When am I most at risk of infection during chemotherapy?

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Re: When am I most at risk of infection during chemotherapy?

Hi JulieME

Thank you for your feedback. 

Do feel free to contact us again at any time. 

With best wishes

Lisa 

Coordinator, Ask Our Nurses Service

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Re: When am I most at risk of infection during chemotherapy?

Many thanks for your reply Jane.  

 

I have been going out, but mainly dog walking and outdoors type things - which have certainly kept my spirits up.

 

Having looked up the treatment I'm on (SACT / TCH-P) the info appears to suggest I may be more at risk of infection than if I was on EC... but I could certainly be reading that incorrectly, as I can't see anything on the Breast Cancer Care site about TCH-P, and have had to resort to American sites!.  I had some blood taken today, as am having a portocath fitted on Wednesday, so I'm sure if anything shows up they'll let me know.  As you suggest, I'll have a chat with my chemo team the next time I'm there - but I was specifically told before to avoid crowded places previously, and I thought that was during the whole of the 3-weekly cycle.

 

Thank you for your advice - it's very helpful to have experts available.  (By the way, I'm already on the August Chemo Starters group and will have a look at monthly threads).

 

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Re: When am I most at risk of infection during chemotherapy?

Thank you so much for your detailed and thoughtful reply, Jaybro.  

 

I'm a bit confused about some of the abbreviations (I've seen 'EC' lots of times and have googled it, so I don't think I'm having that).  I'm receiving 18 cycles of SACT (Systemic Anti-Cancer Therapy), the regime being called TCH-P (lots of long drugs names - the only one I've heard of is Herceptin!).  I think the side-effects and effect on white blood cells are the same though, so your advice is much appreciated.

 

I do hope, as you finished in April, you're well on the way to being well again - if not already there!  Thanks again for your very helpful reply.  xx

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Re: When am I most at risk of infection during chemotherapy?

Hello JulieME

 

Thanks for posting.

 

It’s understandable you want to avoid infection while on chemotherapy. Resistance to infection is usually at its lowest point around 7–14 days after chemotherapy has been given. The number of white blood cells usually returns to normal before your next course of chemotherapy is due.

 

For some people their white blood cells are a bit slower to recover and full blood count is always checked shortly before each treatment. Someone could feel well even if their white cell count hadn’t quite recovered and vice versa. It’s good that you are feeling well so you can make the most of this time. Seeing family, friends and socialising can really be important for emotional wellbeing. As Jaybro says it’s important to try and carry on as normal.

 

It’s not usually necessary to avoid others completely and not go out even in the time when your white count is low but do avoid seeing anyone with an obvious infection and you may want to avoid crowded places at the most busy times.

 

There is more information here about avoiding infection with a section on contact with others. You can check with your chemo team what they recommend, including monitoring of your temperature between cycles and perhaps ask about the flu vaccine if you have not had this yet.

 

You may be interested in the monthly chemotherapy threads on our Forum.

 

Do call our free, confidential Helpline if you would like to talk this through or have any further questions. The number is 0808 800 6000.

 

Our opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am - 4pm and 9am -1pm on Saturday. Out of hours you can leave a message and we will call you back when we next open.  

 

Please be aware that we will be closed on Monday 26 August due to the bank holiday.

 

Best wishes

 

Jane

 

Breast Cancer Care Nurse

 

Please read the Ask Our Nurses disclaimer. This thread will now be closed from further replies. If you have any additional questions or would like to provide feedback, please start a new thread.

 

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Re: When am I most at risk of infection during chemotherapy?

Hi Julie

 

Congratulations on nearly completing your first cycle. Is it EC? The hospital told me that, for EC, week 3 was the least vulnerable as the white blood cells were beginning to renew by then but everyone is different and you have to go by how you feel and what risk you’re prepared to take. I was also told it’s well-nigh impossible to avoid all infection - even if you hide away, people who deliver your groceries or the people you live with may still bring infection to you - but the biggest risk is infection from yourself (I presume that meant mouth sores, urine infections etc). Given that information and the fact that, psychologically, it’s important to live as normal a life as possible, I found it fine to go out and about once the zombie effect had passed. I just asked friends to be mindful and, if they felt a bit unwell or had been in contact with any bugs, to contact me first and we could decide together. Some are still checking though I finished in April!

 

I was pleasantly surprised at the laid-back attitude the hospital had. Twice I rang before my weekly chemo because I had a cold or a cough and I still had to go in. I was concerned about infecting other patients but they weren’t, though they did put me in a side room when I had the cough (probably for my sake).

 

It’s important not to live in fear of catching an infection as you need people around you to feel ‘normal’ but remember you didn’t get that lecture about temperatures and sign that form for no reason. Do make sure your thermometer gives accurate readings (mine was faulty) and, if you feel the very first signs of infection like a runny nose, keep an eye on your temperature - an early admission for a quick antibiotic drip is way better than a long stint of neutropoenic sepsis, believe me.

 

Good luck with the chemo x

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When am I most at risk of infection during chemotherapy?

Hello

I had my first chemotherapy cycle 12 days ago, and am now feeling better having had nearly all the side-effects for around 5 days (ending on day 10).  As I am feeling almost back to my normal self, does this mean I am now at less risk of infection?

 

I am trying to gauge when would be best to mix with people (just shopping, going out, receiving visitors) during the cycle so that I may be able to plan a few things in before my next cycle (which are 3-weekly).  I know I still need to be very careful but wondered if I can relate that to how I feel.

 

Many thanks for your help.