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Your Complete Blood Count and Breast Cancer Treatment


Updated April 28, 2014

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Understanding Your Complete Blood Count (CBC)
Blood Cell Types in a CBC

Blood Cell Types in a CBC

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia
Chemotherapy can lower your blood counts. A complete blood count (CBC) is a routine blood test done regularly during treatment for breast cancer. Ask for and keep a copy of each of your CBCs.

A sample of your blood will be drawn and tested to assess the different elements in your blood (described in detail later). The results of this test will show how well your vital organs are functioning, and how well the treatment is killing your cancer. A CBC will reveal such blood conditions as neutropenia, anemia, or thrombocytopenia. All of these conditions can be treated.

Five Measurements

Red Blood Cells (RBC) – Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, and carry oxygen throughout your body. These cells also remove waste products from your tissues. RBCs are measured in millions per cubic millimeter (mil/mm3) of blood.

White Blood Cells (WBC) – White blood cells are an important part of your immune system. There are many types of white blood cells, such as neutrophils. WBCs are measured in thousands per cubic milliliter (K/mm3) of blood.

Platelets (PLT)Platelets, also called thrombocytes, are very small fragments of cells about one-tenth the size of a red blood cell. Their main function is to form a clot to prevent prolonged bleeding. PLTs are measured in thousands per cubic millimeter (K/mm3) of blood.

Hemoglobin (HGB)Hemoglobin carries oxygen and gives red blood cells their color. When you inhale, hemoglobin carries oxygen from your lungs to your tissues, and when you exhale, hemoglobin passes carbon dioxide out of your body. HGB is measured in grams per deciliter (g/dL) of blood.

Hematocrit (HCT)Hematocrit measures the percentage of red blood cells in relation to your total blood volume.

Normal Ranges for These Measurements:
RBC: 3.58-4.99 mil/mm3
WBC: 3.4-9.6 K/mm3
PLT: 162-380 K/mm3
HGB: 11.1-15.0 g/dL
HCT: 31.8-43.2%

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