Q:

How is a patient's white blood cell count related to cancer?

A:

Quick Answer

Certain types of cancers result in an increase in white blood cells, or WBCs, while other types of cancers result in an increase. The five main types of WBCs include neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils and basophils, according to Cancer.Net.

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How is a patient's white blood cell count related to cancer?
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Full Answer

Cancer treatments, especially chemotherapy, and cancers affecting blood and bone marrow can result in decreased WBC counts. These cancers and treatments can lead to low levels of neutrophils, which increase the chances of developing bacterial infections, states Cancer.Net.

The most serious complication that can arise from a low WBC count is infection, as in severe cases, infection can lead to death, notes Mayo Clinic. Treatment for a low WBC count includes medications that stimulate the production of WBCs and stopping cancer treatments until blood cell counts rise.

Other causes of a low WBC count include Crohn's disease, lupus, radiation, rheumatoid arthritis and medications that treat infections, high blood pressure or seizures, as well as infections such as tuberculosis or certain viruses such as HIV, notes MedlinePlus. Conversely, increases in a WBC count may result from severe emotional and physical stress, removal of the spleen and certain stages of pregnancy. Both increases and decreases may also result from a number of drugs, according to Lab Tests Online.

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