Interpreting CBC Reports

complete hemogram blood test

Contributed by- Dr. Pooja Chaudhary

Have you been advised to get a complete blood count?

Wondering what does this test mean and how to understand the reports? Before understanding the reports, let’s first have a look at what CBC is and why this test is advised.

Complete Blood Count

Complete blood count or CBC or Complete Hemogram is a lab test that provides information about the circulating blood cells.

Human body is predominantly made up of water and cells. Many of the cells group together to form the skin, muscles, bones and organs, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, etc. These cells are stationary, staying in one place within the body.

There are some very special and important cells which move throughout the body by travelling (circulating) in the blood. These circulating cells then provide oxygen to all of these stationary cells in the body. These help them fight against infection throughout the body, and also help to stop bleeding after an injury. Getting info about these cells can provide important inklings about the overall health of the body.

What does CBC evaluate?

A CBC is done to evaluate the three types of cells that circulate in our body, these are:

White blood cells: These are the cells that are a part of the body’s defence system to fight against infections and cancer. They also play a role in allergies and inflammation. These include


Red blood cells: These are the cells that transport oxygen throughout the body

  • Mean corpuscular volume (MCV): It is the measurement of the average size of single red blood cell
  • Mean corpuscular haemoglobin (MCH): It is the calculation of the average concentration of haemoglobin inside a single red blood cell
  • Mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration (MCHC): It is the calculation of the average concentration of haemoglobin inside a single red blood cell
  • Red cell distribution width (RDW): It is a calculation of the variation in the size of RBCs.


Platelets: Evaluation of these cell fragments is vital for the normal blood clotting

  • Platelet count: It  is the number of platelets in a person’s sample of blood
  • Mean platelet volume (MPV): It is a calculation of the average size of platelets.
  • Platelet distribution width (PDW): It reflects how uniform platelets are in size


Why is CBC advised?

Complete blood count (CBC) is performed as a broad screening test to determine an individual’s general health status. It can be used to

Screen for a wide range of conditions and diseases

  • Help diagnose various conditions, such as anaemia, infection, inflammation, bleeding disorder or leukaemia
  • Monitor the condition and/or effectiveness of treatment after a diagnosis has been established
  • Monitor treatment that is known to affect blood cells, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy


If a person has been diagnosed with a disease, which are known to affect the blood cells, in that case a CBC be ordered on a regular basis to monitor the condition. Similarly, if someone is receiving treatment for a blood-related disorder, then a CBC may be performed repeatedly to determine if the treatment is effective or not.



Common causes of low count


Common causes of high count 

WBC Also called as Leukopenia

  • Dietary deficiency
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Severe infection
  • Lymphoma or other cancers that spread in bone marrow
  • Bone marrow disorders or damage
  • Disease of immune system

Also called as Leucocytosis

  • Infection most commonly bacterial or viral
  • Inflammation
  • Leukaemia
  • Allergy
  • Tissue death
  • Intense exercise or severe stress
Platelet Known as Thrombocytopenia

  • Viral infection (including Dengue)
  • Platelet autoantibody
  • Drugs
  • Cirrhosis
  • Autoimmune disorder
  • Sepsis
  • Leukaemia
  • Myelodysplasia
  • Chemo or radiation therapy

Known as Thrombocytosis

  • Cancer
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Iron deficiency anaemia
  • Haemolytic anaemia
  • Myeloproliferative disorder


Remember: These findings can help you in understanding your CBC Reports, but the diagnosis and treatment plan can only be made by the Doctor.


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