What is myelosuppression?

Myelosuppression — also referred to as bone marrow suppression — is a decrease in bone marrow activity resulting in reduced production of blood cells.

This condition is a common side effect of chemotherapy. It can range from mild to severe. Severe myelosuppression, called myeloablation, can be fatal.

The body’s bone marrow produces three types of cells: white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Myelosuppression can decrease some or all of these.

A decrease in all three types of blood cells is referred to as pancytopenia. This condition is life-threatening. It can cause an oxygen shortage and other immune issues.

Myelosuppression symptoms

Symptoms of myelosuppression depend on the type of blood cell affected and the severity of your condition. In more common cases of myelosuppression, you may experience:

If you develop anemia from low red blood cell production, you may experience:

If your white blood cell count decreases, you may experience symptoms of infection including:

If you develop thrombocytopenia from a decrease in platelet count, you may experience symptoms including: