Reference Results for Blood Parameter Changes and Recovery after Pelvic Radiation without Chemotherapy

Gregory P. Swanson, Kendall Hammonds, Sameer Jhavar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: There are few reports on the effect of radiation alone on blood cells (without chemotherapy). We sought to develop a single source as a reference. Materials and Methods: For over 300 prostate cancer patients treated with radiation alone, we collected the baseline, end-of-treatment and three-month post-therapy complete blood counts (CBC). Results: The hemoglobin dropped by a mean of 1.00 g/dL (−7.1%), with an RBC count of 0.40 × 1012 (−8.6%) at the end of treatment and remained significantly (but <5%) below baseline at follow-up. Significant declines were seen in the levels of the granulocytes (−12.2%; −0.67 × 109), monocytes (−2.2%; −0.05 × 109) and platelets (−12.7%; −30.31 × 109) at the end of treatment, but all returned to baseline on follow-up. The neutrophils and basophils (the primary components of the granulocytes) suffered a significant decline but returned to baseline by the follow-up. The other granulocyte components, the eosinophils, did not decline significantly. The most dramatic decline was in the levels of lymphocytes −62.5% (−1.29 × 109), which were still significantly below baseline (−38%) after two years. Conclusion: The effect of radiation is mostly transitory, with some persistence in hemoglobin/erythrocyte levels (<5%). Lymphocytes are slower to recover, remaining significantly below baseline after two years. It is noteworthy that of the patients whose lymphocytes were in the normal range at the start of therapy, only 14% were below normal at follow-up. Radiation alone has negligible-to-modest long-term effects on blood counts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-164
Number of pages10
JournalHematology Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • blood counts
  • hematotoxicity
  • WBC counts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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