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What should I expect after I undergo a phlebotomy for cancer treatment?

A phlebotomy is a procedure that will remove a specific amount of blood. Two common reasons for doing a phlebotomy are to remove excess iron or red blood cells from the circulation. Generally, one unit of blood (approximately 1 pint) is removed.

Immediately after the procedure, you will be observed by a nurse for 30 minutes. This is done to watch for possible side effects. You may feel a little weak, dizzy, or faint after the procedure. For this reason, you will be asked to stay seated or lie down for five minutes before standing up and encouraged to drink fluids.

After you leave the hospital, follow these instructions:
  1. You should not smoke after your phlebotomy for one to two hours because smoking may increase your chances of feeling dizzy.
  2. Limit any strenuous exercise of the arm used for the procedure for 24 hours after your phlebotomy.
  3. Eat something once you are at home.
  4. If you feel faint while standing, lie or sit down with your head between your knees for a few minutes. Change positions slowly to limit dizziness.
  5. Do not remove the bandage at the phlebotomy site for at least 12 hours after the procedure. If there is active bleeding from the phlebotomy site, apply pressure for at least 15 minutes.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.