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Donating Blood If You Have Cancer

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Updated May 01, 2014

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Question: Donating Blood If You Have Cancer
I would like to donate my blood , but was treated for lung cancer three years ago. Can people with cancer donate their blood?
Answer: There isn't a simple 'yes' or 'no' answer. Many people who have been treated for cancer are eligible to donate blood, provided they fall into certain guidelines. Eligibility guidelines do vary among organizations. The American Red Cross is largest blood organizations in the world and their eligibility guidelines have set the standard for for other blood organizations. Overall, guidelines and safety measures are regulated by the FDA.

Eligibility Guidelines for The American Red Cross

The American Red Cross does allow some people with a history of cancer to donate blood. You must wait at least 12 months following the completion of treatment to donate your blood. You cannot have had a recurrence. If you are currently in treatment, then you are ineligible to donate.

The Red Cross does make note that those treated for low risk in-situ carcinomas like basal cell carcinomas or squamous cell carcinoma (two types of skin cancers) do not need to wait 12 months after treatment.Women who have had a precancerous cervical condition can donate, provided their were successfully treated.

If you have ever had lymphoma or leukemia, or any other blood cancer as an adult, then you cannot donate your blood to the Red Cross. Adults who had these cancer as children can donate, as long it has been 10 years since treatment and it has no recurred.

There are other conditions and factors that affect donor eligibility. Read the Red Cross's list of conditions that may affect your donor status.

Tips For When You Give Blood

Be as thorough as possible about your health history when you give blood. A person called a blood historian will record all of your information before you are accepted. You should tell them how your cancer was treated and when your last treatment was completed. If there are no issues, you will usually be allowed to donate blood the same day. If there are issues, your case may need to be reviewed by a physician at the donor center before you can donate. There is no fee to have your blood reviewed at the Red Cross.

If you you have any question prior to donating, you can call your local Red Cross or ask your oncologist.

Source:

Cancer Society. Blood Donation. July 17, 2007. Accessed January 20, 2010.
http://www.cancer.org/docroot/ETO/content/ETO_1_4X_Blood_Donation.asp?sitearea=ETO

American Red Cross. Eligibility Criteria. Accessed January 20, 2010.
http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/eligibility-requirements/eligibility-criteria-topic#med_cond

FDA.Questions About Blood. November 09, 2009. Accessed January 20 2010.
http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/BloodBloodProducts/QuestionsaboutBlood/default.htm.

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