Red blood cell transfusion and outcome in cancer

Transfus Apher Sci. 2017 Jun;56(3):287-290. doi: 10.1016/j.transci.2017.05.014. Epub 2017 May 26.


Oncology services utilize about 15% of the blood transfusion resources in the USA. Red blood cell transfusion is performed immediately before, during or after major surgery to compensate for blood loss and hemodilution. However, a lack of evidence-based guidelines leads to variable transfusion practices among clinicians. The benefits of transfusing blood products are obvious in life-threatening low blood cell counts or bleeding, but it is becoming apparent that deliberate blood transfusion in some cancer patients can trigger negative clinical impacts. This review attempts to provide an overview of the impact of red blood cell transfusion in patients suffering from various types of oncologic pathologies.

Keywords: Cancer; Prognosis; Recurrence; Red blood cells; Transfusion.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Erythrocyte Transfusion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Prognosis
  • Treatment Outcome