Can Cancer Cause A High White Blood Cell Count
While infections and inflammation are more often to blame for an increase in white blood cell counts, some cancers can increase your WBC count as well. This condition, called leukocytosis, can occur in some of the same cancers that cause WBCs to drop, like leukemia and lymphoma. Leukemia and lymphomas can cause out-of-control reproduction of some types of blood cells. When there are too many white blood cells, they can crowd out healthy cells and disrupt normal function and cell production.
What Does A High White Blood Cell Count Mean
White blood cells are an important and necessary part of your immune system. Produced in your bone marrow, they defend your body against infections and disease. But, when there are too many white blood cells, it usually means you have infection or inflammation in your body. Less commonly, a high white blood cell count could indicate certain blood cancers or bone marrow disorders.
What is considered a high white blood cell count?
Typically, if there are more than 11,000 white blood cells in a microliter of your blood, its considered leukocytosis.
High white blood cell count during pregnancy
A high blood cell count during pregnancy is normal. Your body is simply experiencing the stress of carrying a baby. Your healthcare provider will run routine blood tests throughout your pregnancy to make sure nothing out of the ordinary is going on.
Cancer Itself Can Increase Infection Risk
Some types of cancer can change the way the immune system blood cells work. For instance, lymphomas , multiple myeloma, and most types of leukemia start in immune system blood cells. Other types of cancer can also affect the immune system and its cells. They can change the immune system cells so that cells that once protected your body begin to interfere with the normal way your immune system works. Cancer cells can get into the bone marrow cells where blood cells are made. The cancer cells then compete with the normal bone marrow cells for space and nutrients. If too many normal bone marrow cells are destroyed or pushed out of the bone marrow, the few cells that are left wont be able to make enough white blood cells to help the body fight infection.
Cancer can also damage other parts of the immune system. A tumor that grows on the skin or in mucous membranes can break natural barriers and allow germs to get in. Tumors that are large might reduce blood flow to normal tissues by pressing on them or their blood supply. Tumors in the lungs may block normal mucus drainage, which can lead to infections. And, other types of tissues that have been damaged by cancer can be more prone to infections.
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Are Bleeding Polyps Cancerous
While there is no direct causation between bleeding polyps and developing colon cancer, we can safely say that bleeding polyps usually occur amongst larger polyps, and larger polyps are more likely to become cancerous.
If you believe that blood in your stool or your abdominal pain may be connected to bleeding polyps, then it is best to see your doctor for a colonoscopy.
What Tests Will Be Done To Diagnose Lymphocytosis
Your provider may order a blood test called a complete blood count with differential. This test shows if you have a higher-than-normal amount of lymphocytes. They may order a flow cytometry test to see if the lymphocytes are clonal . Testing may also include a bone marrow biopsy to help determine the root cause of lymphocytosis.
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What Types Of Foods Will Help To Decrease Your Elevated White Blood Cell Count
Omega-3 fatty acidsOmega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that is known to increase heart health and elevate the activity of phagocytes, a type of white blood cells that protect you from foreign bacteria. Omega-3 PUFAs are found mainly in fatty fish like trout, herring, and salmon, but also in walnuts and flaxseed. Studies have shown that PUFAs significantly increased white blood cell counts in women on a controlled diet.
AntioxidantsAntioxidants are a type of a molecule that protects our cells against harmful molecules called free radicals, which damage cells, protein, and DNA . Eating more phytochemicals helps protect against this type of damage. Phytochemicals with antioxidant capacity include allyl sulfides , carotenoids , flavonoids , and polyphenols . While they dont specifically work to increase white blood cell count, they help to support a healthy immune system.
Vitamin CVitamin C helps the body to produce more white blood cells, which in turn helps the body to fight infections. All citrus fruitsincluding oranges, lemons, and limescontain vitamin C. You can also get vitamin C from other fruits, such as berries, papayas, pineapples and guavas, and vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and bell peppers.
Does Lymphocytosis Lead To Leukemia
It can, but this is rare. Sometimes monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis progresses to a specific leukemia called chronic lymphocytic leukemia . A B-cell is a particular type of lymphocyte. With MBL, you have a higher-than-normal amount of clonal B-cells in your blood.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Dont be alarmed if you have lymphocytosis. Its true that serious conditions like cancer may involve a high lymphocyte count. Theres a much greater chance that an infection is to blame. Your lymphocyte levels will likely return to normal once your immune system has cleared the infection. If your levels remain high, your provider can recommend tests and treatments to address the underlying cause.
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Understanding Your Blood Test Results
Part 1: Red Blood Cells and Clotting
Your blood carries a wealth of information. Thats why certain blood tests can detect conditions of concern before symptoms appear. For example, tumor markers in your blood can help doctors figure out which treatment might work best for your cancer, indicate your prognosis or reveal whether your cancer has returned or gone into remission.
Metastatic Breast Cancer Blood Tests
Different blood tests may be used to detect breast cancer:
- The CA 27.29 blood test measures the level of a protein called the CA 27.29 antigen. In theory, the level rises as there is more breast cancer in the body. This test can, in some patients, help determine if cancer is growing in the body, or whether treatments are working. Similar tests include the CA-15-3 and CEA.
- Circulating tumor cells may also be measured through a blood test. CTCs are extremely rare in healthy individuals and patients with nonmalignant diseases but are often present in people with metastatic cancer. Some clinical studies indicate the assessment of CTCs can assist doctors in monitoring and predicting cancer progression and in evaluating a patients response to therapy. CTC testing and use is still in the experimental stage.
For more detailed information on MBC treatment and resources, download or order a free copy of our Metastatic Navigator.
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Are There Any Risks To The Test
After a blood test, you may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.
There is very little risk to your baby or child with a needle stick test. Your child may feel a little pinch when the site is poked, and a small bruise may form at the site. This should go away quickly.
Hemorrhoids Vs Colon Cancer: Whats The Difference
On the other hand, colon cancer is characterized as abnormal growths on the lining of the colon. When cells deviate from their natural grow-divide-die cycle, they can increase in size and even multiply. When left untreated, polyps can evolve into cancer.
Colon cancer also invades nearby lymph nodes. When blood from the intestine is carried to the liver, colon cancer may spread to the liver once it has targeted nearby lymph nodes.
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Whats Dangerous About White Blood Cell Count
WBCs are an important part of your immune system. They help you fight infection and are most effective when their numbers fall within a certain range.
A WBC count thats too low means that youre at risk for infection. Your doctor will monitor your WBC during treatment to make sure that it doesnt get too low.
Your WBC is so important that if treatment causes it to drop too far, your doctor will temporarily stop the treatment. Once your WBC returns to safe levels, cancer treatment can resume.
Tell your doctor right away if you experience any signs of low WBC count, which include:
Self-care is always important, but even more so if you have a low WBC count. Eat a nutritious diet, get plenty of rest, and avoid germs and injury as much as possible.
Immunotherapy helps your body fight cancer using your own immune system. This therapy makes your existing white blood cells more effective against cancer by helping them recognize and destroy cancer cells.
Cancer cells grow because they can interfere with your immune system in ways like these:
- They have surface proteins that turn off your immune system response.
- They have genetic properties that help them hide from your immune system.
- They can change the healthy cells around them, so these cells get in the way of the immune system.
Immunotherapy helps correct these issues. Types of immunotherapy include:
How Dangerous Is A High White Blood Cell Count
High white blood cell counts are not always dangerous. In many cases, when a person has a high white blood cell count, they also have other symptoms that indicate that their body is fighting an infection or another condition.
In these cases, it may take time for the doctor to identify the underlying cause of the high white blood cell count, but in most cases, treatment will help a patients overall condition.
However, in some situations, a high white blood cell count can cause shock or anaphylactic shock , which can be life-threatening if not treated quickly and correctly.
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What Is The Prognosis For Adults Who Have Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Approximately 2 out of 3 adults with AML go into remission after getting chemotherapy. Remission means you dont have disease symptoms. There are no detectable cancer cells in the bone marrow and the normal healthy cells are growing again.
Because AML often comes back, you may continue to get chemotherapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells and keep them away. Your healthcare provider may call this step post-remission chemotherapy. Up to half of people who get this treatment go into long-term remission. AML accounts for fewer than 2% of all cancer-related deaths.
If cancer comes back within 12 months of treatment, your provider may recommend a stem cell transplant if you are healthy enough to tolerate it. If youve relapsed, a bone marrow transplant is often the only chance for cure once the leukemia has gone back into remission.
Survival Rates For Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Inflammatory breast cancer is considered an aggressive cancer because it grows quickly, is more likely to have spread at the time its found, and is more likely to come back after treatment than other types of breast cancer. The outlook is generally not as good as it is for other types of breast cancer.
Survival rates can give you an idea of what percentage of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive a certain amount of time after they were diagnosed. They cant tell you how long you will live, but they may help give you a better understanding of how likely it is that your treatment will be successful.
Keep in mind that survival rates are estimates and are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had a specific cancer, but they cant predict what will happen in any particular persons case. These statistics can be confusing and may lead you to have more questions. Talk with your doctor about how these numbers may apply to you, as he or she is familiar with your situation.
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What Are The Parts Of The Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system consists of many parts. These include:
The lymphatic system collects excess fluid that drains from cells and tissue throughout the body and returns it to the bloodstream, which is then recirculated through the body.
- Spleen: This largest lymphatic organ is located on your left side under your ribs and above your stomach. The spleen filters and stores blood and produces white blood cells that fight infection or disease.
- Thymus: This organ is located in the upper chest beneath the breast bone. It matures a specific type of white blood cell that fights off foreign organisms.
- Tonsils and adenoid: These lymphoid organs trap pathogens from the food you eat and the air you breathe. They are your bodys first line of defense against foreign invaders.
- Bone marrow: This is the soft, spongy tissue in the center of certain bones, such as the hip bone and breastbone. White blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets are made in the bone marrow.
- Peyers patches: These are small masses of lymphatic tissue in the mucous membrane that lines your small intestine. These lymphoid cells monitor and destroy bacteria in the intestines.
- Appendix: Your appendix contains lymphoid tissue that can destroy bacteria before it breaches the intestine wall during absorption. Scientists also believe the appendix plays a role in housing good bacteria and repopulating our gut with good bacteria after an infection has cleared.
How Is Myelofibrosis Diagnosed
A healthcare provider will perform a physical exam and ask about your medical history, including any symptoms youre experiencing. Theyll check for signs of an enlarged spleen and anemia.
Theyll perform various tests to rule out other conditions and confirm your diagnosis.
- Complete blood count : This test measures your number of blood cells. A lower than normal number of red blood cells and abnormal amounts of white blood cells and platelets may suggest myelofibrosis.
- Peripheral blood smear : This test shows if your blood cells are abnormal in size, shape or other features. Abnormal-looking cells and large numbers of immature blood cells may be a sign of myelofibrosis.
- Blood chemistry tests: These tests measure levels of various substances your organs release into your blood. They can show how an organ is functioning. High levels of uric acid, bilirubin and lactic dehydrogenase may signal myelofibrosis.
Bone marrow tests
- Bone marrow biopsy: This test removes a sample of bone marrow that your provider examines underneath a microscope. Theyll analyze the cells to confirm you have myelofibrosis.
- Bone marrow aspiration: This test removes the fluid part of bone marrow so your provider can examine it for signs of myelofibrosis.
You may need additional tests to confirm your diagnosis, including:
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What Are White Blood Cells
There are several types of white blood cells , also called leukocytes, and each can be affected differently by cancer and its treatments. There are five types of white blood cells:
- Neutrophils attack viruses and bacteria.
- Eosinophils fight bacteria, parasites, and mount immune responses to allergens.
- Basophils create generic immune responses and play a role in conditions like asthma.
- Lymphocytes help defend and fight against infection. There are two main types of lymphocytes: T-cells and B-cells. T-cells target infectious invaders, while B-cells create antibodies to prevent future infections.
- Monocytes clean up wastes and dead cells in the body.
Cancer can lead to a high or low WBC count, depending on the type of cancer, which type of white blood cell is affected, and where the cancer is in your body.
Cancer The Blood And Circulation
This page tells you about the blood and circulation and how cancer may affect them.
There is information about
The blood flows throughout the body. It:
- carries food and oxygen to all the cells of the body
- carries away waste products that the body needs to get rid of
Without a blood supply, cells and body tissues die.
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Does Leukemia Always Show Up In Blood Work
By looking at a sample of your blood, your doctor can determine if you have abnormal levels of red or white blood cells or platelets which may suggest leukemia. A blood test may also show the presence of leukemia cells, though not all types of leukemia cause the leukemia cells to circulate in the blood.
What Is It Used For
A white blood count is most often used to help diagnose disorders related to having a high white blood cell count or low white blood cell count.
Disorders related to having a high white blood count include:
- Autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, conditions that cause the immune system to attack healthy tissues
- Bacterial or viral infections
Disorders related to having a low white blood count include:
- Diseases of the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS
- Lymphoma, a cancer of the bone marrow
- Diseases of the liver or spleen
A white blood count can show if the number of your white blood cells is too high or too low, but it can’t confirm a diagnosis. So it is usually done along with other tests, such as a complete blood count, blood differential, blood smear, and/or bone marrow test.
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