CBC stands for “complete blood count.”
With a Complete Blood Count (CBC), your blood cells are measured and counted. This blood test checks for a number of diseases and conditions and also looks for signs of medication side effects in your blood.
CBC is often used as a general screening test to find out how healthy a person is overall. You can use it to:
- Check for a large number of diseases and conditions
- Help figure out what’s wrong, like anemia, an infection, inflammation, a bleeding disorder, or leukemia.
- Check on the condition and/or how well treatment is working after a diagnosis is made.
- Keep an eye on treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy that are known to hurt blood cells.
A CBC is helpful if you have any of the following signs:
- Bruising or bleeding
- Fatigue, dizziness or weakness
- Fever, sickness, and throwing up
- Swelling and irritation anywhere in the body, which is called inflammation.
- Joint pain
- Heart rate or blood pressure problems
With a CBC, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are all measured and studied. Red blood cells deliver oxygen to all parts of the body. Your immune system includes white blood cells. They help your immune system fight off sickness. Platelets help blood clot in your body.
A CBC checks, counts, looks at, and studies many things about your blood:
- A CBC without differential counts all the white blood cells in the body.
- CBC with differential – White blood cells come in five different types. In the differential, the number of each type of white blood cell is counted.
- Hemoglobin tests measure the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen, called hemoglobin.
- Hematocrit shows how many red blood cells you have in your blood.
A CBC tells you:
- The number of new blood cells your body makes.
- The number of red blood cells (RBC or erythrocytes), white blood cells (WBC or leukocytes), and platelets.
- How big and round blood cells are.
The following are some of the wide range of diseases that a CBC can detect:
- Anemia, which happens when the body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen around.
- Diseases of the bone marrow, like myelodysplastic syndromes.
- Diseases like agranulocytosis, sickle cell anemia, and thalassemias.
- Infections or other health problems that cause the white blood cell count to be too low or too high.
- Many different kinds of cancer, like leukemia and lymphoma.
- Problems with chemotherapy and some prescription drugs.
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies.