Many patients with cancer experience low blood counts, which causes weakness and fatigue. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and colleagues from China and the UK have discovered how a tumour affects a patient’s blood count and bone marrow characteristics.

The study has been published online in the scientific journal Cell Reports. A low blood count, or anemia, is common in cancer patients and causes considerable fatigue. Anemia is sometimes caused by patients taking cytostatic drugs, which also kill healthy cells including red blood cells. But cancer in itself also affects the blood count and there is a lack of knowledge about the causes of this phenomenon. Researchers have now succeeded in mapping out an important mechanism which explains how a tumour manages to affect a person’s blood count and bone marrow characteristics.

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