Cancer takes its toll on the body and causes lot of anatomical changes in the body, also the therapy the patient undergoes results in composition changes in the body. Thus the doctors if suspects the patient to have or is diagnosed with cancer orders blood cell counts. The blood is a composite of various types of blood cells with a standard normal amount or cell count. The body needs these in specific quantities to function well. As the treatment or the disease may affect the levels or cell count of any blood cell type, these tests are necessary.
A blood cell count will measure typically the levels of these three in the blood system of the body.
White blood cells make the immune system of the body and produce antibodies to fight any foreign invasion of abnormal cells. If the count of this blood cell type is low, the immunity is slow and consequently an individual has higher risks of developing an infection.
Red Blood Cells form a vital component of the blood which carry oxygen to all the parts of the body. They have an iron rich protein called haemoglobin which binds itself to the oxygen molecules and carries it to the body parts from the lungs. To assess the percentage od red blood cells in the whole of blood, hematocrit level is checked. Thus a blood cell counts also measure the red blood cell level, the hemoglobin level and the hematocrit level in the blood.
Platelets are a vital part of the blood as they have thrombin which helps in clotting of blood to prevent excessive bleeding. Blood tests also check the patient for a condition called anemia in which the blood cells count is very low. It can be an indicative of the fact that the bone marrow tissue responsible for blood cells generation is infected with cancer cells.
Cancer treatment therapies like chemotherapy and radiation therapy adversely affect the blood cells count of the body. Chemotherapy results in significant decrease in the blood cells count as compared to radiation therapy. But it is matter of concern if the Radiation Therapy is being directed to a large mass of abnormal tissue. So blood cell counts will be done immediately before, during or immediately after these therapies. In case the counts are found to be considerably low, the doctor can put you on growth factor regime to accelerate the growth of specific type of blood cells.
Alternatively in worst situation blood transfusion may also be done. These tests are done periodically to check the status and monitor adverse effects of the therapies.