Why Might A Complete Blood Cell Count Test Be Needed?
A complete blood count (CBC) is a type of blood test used to evaluate your overall health and can be used to detect certain types of cancer. A CBC test will measure several components and features of your blood such as the red blood cells.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor About A CBC Test
If you’ve been referred for a CBC and are concerned about the test, then there are a number of questions that you can ask your doctor. Consider asking your doctor some of the following questions:
- Why am I having this test?
- Where is the test done?
- How will I get my results?
- What are normal test results?
- If my results are normal, what are the next steps?
- If my results are outside of the normal range, what are the next steps?
- Will I need any additional tests?
Asking questions relating to your blood count test, can help to ease your mind meaning you won’t keep asking yourself them. You’ll have a clear answer helping to relieve some of your worry before you have the blood test carried out.
What Does A Complete Blood Count Measure?
A complete blood count test measures a number of things regarding the cells in your blood. The CBC is designed to measure:
- White Blood Cell Count: A white blood cell count, also known as a leukocyte count, measures the total number of white blood cells that appear in your blood. These cells protect the body from infection by attacking invading bacteria, viruses and other foreign materials that might be in the body. Some white blood cells are also capable of attacking cancer cells.
- White Blood Cell Differential: A white blood cell differential is test that has been specifically designed to measure the number of each type of white blood cell. The body has five main types of white blood cells, which can be used to check a number of health conditions. Some things white blood cells measure include:
- Red Blood Cell Count: Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body. Red blood cell counts, also known as erythrocyte counts, are designed to measure the number of red blood cells in a sample of your blood. The two most common ways to measure red blood cells include:
- Hematocrit (Hct) – Shows the percentage of your blood that is made up of red blood cells.
- Hemoglobin (Hgb) – Measures the amount of protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen.
- Platelet Count: The platelet count measures the number of platelets that appear in your blood. Platelets are needed as they help to stop bleeding by forming blood clots.
What Do the Results Mean?
Doctors and medical staff will look at your test results and interpret the CBD test results in their own way, to assess and diagnose what you might be suffering from. There are a number of factors that can cause your test results to fall out of the normal range. A doctor will have a consultation with you to discuss your test results.
If your results come back with a low white blood cell count there a number of things that can cause this. Some types of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy can cause your body’s white blood cell count to decrease. Cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma that affect the blood and bone marrow, can cause a decrease in your white blood cell count.
When results come back with different amounts of white blood cells, this can mean several different things. Higher than normal white blood cells in the form of lymphocytes and monocytes can indicate the possibility of certain types of cancers. Some types of cancers and their treatments can cause neutropenia. Neutropenia is when there is a decrease in the amount if neutrophils, this can lead to higher chances of things such as bacterial infection. If this happens to show, then your doctor might reduce your chemotherapy dose to reduce the chances of a low neutrophil count. Some doctors will prescribe white blood cell growth medication to increase your body’s production.
Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy can cause a decrease in red blood cells. This condition is known as anaemia. People who suffer from a low red blood cell count on a regular basis might need a blood transfusion or medication to help them increase it.
Tests that come back showing a low platelet count can be caused by cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation. When your body has, a low platelet count it can result in a condition known as thrombocytopenia. When people suffer from low platelet levels they are at more serious risk of bleeding or bruising.
It’s important that whenever you have a complete blood cell count test carried out by a doctor, you discuss it with them. Many blood tests come back within normal levels. However, CBC tests can be greatly effective in monitoring cell counts in people at risk of cancer, people who’ve previously had cancer or people who are currently undergoing treatment for cancer.