by Melanie Haiken
Just think of platelets in the same way you’d think of cornstarch or flour whenever you mix it in a sauce or stew, and it’s easy to see why they’re so vital: They’re the clotting factors that make blood thicken and harden. Without enough platelets, it would be impossible to stop platelets and it would be dangerous to have any injury.
Why does cancer make platelet counts drop?
In most cases, it’s not the cancer that causes low platelets but the treatment used for the cancer.. Chemotherapy will make platelet counts fall because it targets cells that grow rapidly. Tumor cells grow and divide quickly, but so do cells in the bone marrow that produce red blood cells and platelets. Radiation may also create a low platelet count (also called thrombocytopenia), especially radiation to the pelvic area, due to there being a higher proportion of bone marrow within the pelvic bones. But many cancers, especially blood or lymph type cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia, can greatly reduce the production of platelets if they spread into the bone marrow.