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Understanding Your Complete Blood Count (CBC)

Some healthy cells that chemotherapy can affect are the blood cells. CBCs monitor how chemotherapy is affecting your blood cells. We will check your CBC before every treatment and provide you with a copy to keep for your records if you request one.


The following are the most significant markers of how chemo is affecting your body and its ability to resist infection, maintain energy levels, and protect against bleeding.

  • WBC—White blood cell or leukocyte. White blood cells help the body fight infection. There are several types and they are listed on the differential.
  • GRAN or ANC—Granulocytes or Absolute Neutrophil count. This defines the level of maturity of neutrophils—a type of white blood cell that helps fight infection.
  • RBC—Red blood cell. RBCs carry oxygen from the lungs to the tissues of the body.
  • Hgb—Hemoglobin. This is the oxygen-carrying pigment in the red blood cell.
  • Hct—Hematocrit. This is the percentage of RBCs in a volume of whole blood.
  • PLT—Platelets or thrombocytes. Helps the blood to clot.


The following will assist in the diagnosis of anemia. Anemia is a condition that occurs when the number of red blood cells is below normal.

  • MCV—Mean Corpuscular Volume. Hematocrit divided by the RBC count equals the average volume of an RBC.
  • MCH—Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin. Hemoglobin divided by RBC levels equals the average weight of Hgb of each RBC.
  • MCHC—Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration. Hemoglobin divided by hematocrit equals the concentration of hemoglobin in an average RBC.
  • RDW—Red cell distribution width. A numerical expression of the degree of variation