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Your Complete Blood Count and Breast Cancer Treatment


Updated April 28, 2014

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Your CBC - White Blood Cell Levels and Neutropenia

White Blood Cells Types
White blood cells are important to your health because they fight infection. Unlike red blood cells, there are several different types of white blood cells.

The Five Types of White Blood Cells

Each of these types of white blood cells will be measured and reported on your CBC as a percent and as a number.

Your Absolute Neutrophil Count (ANC)
Neutrophils, also called granulocytes, make up more than half of your total white blood cell count. There are two types of neutrophils: polys and bands, which must be counted separately. Your CBC report will have a number for ANC or AGC (Absolute Granulocyte Count). This is an important number, because it shows how well your body can fight off an infection. A normal neutrophil count is 2,500 to 6,000. Your ANC is calculated by this formula:

White blood cell count x (number of polys + number of bands) = Absolute Neutrophil Count

If your neutrophil count is less than 1,000, you have an increased risk of infection. If your absolute neutrophil count (ANC) drops below 1,000, you could easily get a serious infection. This condition is called neutropenia, and can be treated with injections of Neulasta or Neupogen (filgrastim). Labs vary on their ranges, but mild neutropenia would be an ANC of 1,000 to 1,500, moderate would be an ANC of 500 to 1,000, and severe an ANC of fewer than 500. If you get an infection, it must be treated with antibiotics. In extreme cases, a bone marrow transplant can be given.
Note that African Americans and southeast Asians have normal ANCs in lower ranges, and that a diagnosis of neutropenia would also occur at a lower number.

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