COVID-19 – Coronavirus Information and Updates

What is Iron Deficiency Anemia?


Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is a frequent complication among patients that have cancer. An estimated 7% to 42% of patients have Iron Deficiency Anemia.

This condition is caused by having too little iron in the body. This may cause your body to lose the ability to produce enough healthy red blood cells to carry enough oxygen to the tissues in the body.

Complications, Symptoms and Treatments


Possible Complications

Blood Loss

Certain cancers that lead to blood loss can lead to IDA. This is because when you lose blood you also lose iron.

Anticancer Therapies

Certain anticancer therapies, such as chemotherapy, can affect your red blood cells which may contribute to iron loss.

Erythropoiesis Stimulating Agents

A medication that some patients may be prescribed to, to help them make red blood cells. However, erythropoiesis stimulating agents (ESAs) cause your body to use iron faster than normal. If you do not take extra iron you may develop IDA.


Inflammation in the body can drive up levels of hepcidin. Hepcidin is a hormone that helps regulate iron regulation. Cancer patients that experience inflammation may have trouble with iron absorption leading to IDA.

Nutrition Deficiencies

Common cancer symptoms and treatments can lead to appetite loss ultimately impacting the patient’s ability to take in food and absorb nutrients. If there is not enough iron being consumed in ones diet it can raise the risk of developing Iron Deficiency Anemia.


IDA is often undertreated and underdiagnosed because some patients may have no symptoms at first, or symptoms may appear as a result from other conditions.

Common Symptoms

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Headaches 
  • Dizziness
  • Fast Heartbeat
  • Weakness
  • Brittle Nails
  • Chest Pain
  • Ice Cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Pale Skin

Symptoms cannot be used to diagnose IDA, if you are experiencing these symptoms it is important to consult with you doctor about Iron Deficiency Anemia testing and possibly options for treatment. 


Treatment Options

Iron supplementation in the form or oral iron, or intravenous iron may be prescribed as treatment.

In serious cases blood transfusions may be required. A blood transfusion is the process of transferring blood to a patient through an IV line.

It is important to consult with your primary physician to address Iron Deficiency Anemia. The team at Hunterdon Hematology Oncology team is here to help, contact us today and request a consultation.

2100 Wescott Drive
Flemington, NJ 08822
Phone: 908-264-1670
Fax: 908-788-6412
Office Hours

Get in touch