October 2, 2014
In September, we discussed how chemotherapy treatment affects your blood cells. This month, we’re going to take the most basic approach to understanding your Complete Blood Count (or CBC). Let’s do this by simply defining the more important abbreviations and words that you may be running across on your medical tests or in discussions with your OHC physician and nurses. Here’s a simple CBC glossary:
WBC (White Blood Cell). A blood cell that helps protect your body from infection. Increased WBC counts may indicate infection or other stress to the body. Decreased WBC counts may indicate an increased risk of infection, depending on the values.
LYM (Lymphocyte). A type of WBC that plays a key role in immunity and helps protect your body from infection.
MID. Indicates the combined value of the other types of white blood cells not classified as lymphocytes or granulocytes.
GRAN (Granulocyte). A type of of WBC that plays a key role in infection.
RBC (Red Blood Cell). A blood cell that carries oxygen around the body through your blood stream.
HGB (Hemoglobin). The oxygen-carrying part of the RBC (red blood cell).
HCT (Hematocrit). The volume or percentage of red blood cells in the blood sample. The hemoglobin and hematocrit values are used simultaneously to determine certain conditions. Depending on the value, increased levels may indicate more than normal amounts of blood or dehydration. Decreased levels may indicate anemia.
MCV (Mean Cell Volume). The average size of the red blood cell.
MCH (Mean Cell Hemoglobin). The average amount of hemoglobin in an average red blood cell.
MCHC (Mean Cell Hemoglobin Concentration). The concentration of hemoglobin in an average red blood cell that helps distinguish normal-colored red cells from pale-colored red blood cells.
RDW (Red Cell Distribution Width). Reports whether the red cells are the same in width, size, and shape. This value may assist in determining certain types of anemia. It is expected that the RDW increases in almost everyone who is receiving chemotherapy because of the effect chemotherapy has on the blood cells.
PLT (Platelet). Blood cells that help your blood clot and avoid excess bleeding. Increased levels of platelets increase the risk for clotting while decreased levels of platelets increase the risk for bruising and bleeding.