Hemoglobin matters: Perioperative blood management for oncology patients

Jennifer Stephens, Ruby Tano


As the number of cancer cases rise each year in Canada, so does the number of surgical oncology cases. Surgery presents a unique and heightened stressor for the body already experiencing volatility from factors such as disease and treatments. Perioperative red blood cell (RBC) transfusions are critical to stabilize hemoglobin levels and correct anemia, as well as provide a buffer against anticipated intraoperative blood loss. Thoroughly examining and anticipating risk factors related to the potential need for perioperative blood transfusions is necessary to improve outcomes. Research evidence in recent years related to perioperative blood management of oncology patients has specifically recommended active, coordinated programs to reduce the need and amount of blood transfusions administered pre-, intra-, and post-surgery. Coordination between surgical oncologists and a local or provincial patient blood management (PBM) program is an important strategy that allows patients at risk of perioperative complications to be identified and receive early interventions and ongoing observation. 

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