Rarely, a high white blood cell count can be a symptom of certain blood cancers, such as acute myeloid leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Leukemia, a type of cancer found in your blood and bone marrow, is caused by the rapid production of abnormal white blood cells. The high number of abnormal white blood cells are not able to fight infection, and they impair the ability of the bone marrow to produce red blood cells and platelets.
Overall, the most common cause for a high white blood cell count is response to infection. Another potential cause of an elevated white blood cell count is leukemia. This is effectively a cancerous change of the blood and bone marrow which causes significant overproduction of white blood cells.
Leukocytosis is a normal immune response and isn't always a cause for concern. Most of the time, it means that your body is fighting off infection or inflammation. However, there are times when a high white blood cell count could indicate something more serious, such as leukemia.
Leukapheresis is a way of removing abnormal white blood cells from the blood. You might have this treatment if you have a very high white blood cell count. Very high numbers of leukaemia cells in the blood can cause problems with normal circulation.
When a high white blood cell count is not caused by general infections and immune system malfunctions or responses, it may be an indication of a more specific issue or condition, such as: Acute lymphocytic leukemia. Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) Allergy, especially severe allergic reactions.
In general, for adults a count of more than 11,000 white blood cells in a microliter of blood is considered high.
Stress levels increase white blood cell count
This indicates a connection between elevated stress levels and the body's production of what are known as inflammatory leukocytes, a particular variety of white blood cell. Normally, inflammatory leukocytes are the body's defense system against infection and disease.
Does a high white blood cell count indicate cancer? Not always. A high white blood cell count could signal certain types of cancer, such as leukemia or lymphoma, but it more often is a sign of inflammation or infection.
At diagnosis, people with leukemia can have extremely high white blood cell counts. According to the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, they can reach into the 100,000 to 400,000 range.
A high white blood cell count alone doesn't cause any symptoms. The symptoms you feel may come from the medical problem that your white blood cells are fighting. For example, if you have pneumonia, you may have a fever and trouble breathing. These are symptoms of pneumonia, not of a high white blood cell count.
It's natural to see an increase in the white blood cells when the body's fighting with an infection, but too much of white blood cells may require further investigation. A very high white blood cell count indicates an underlying health condition.
Sleep restriction to four hours of sleep during three consecutive nights induced an increase in WBC counts, mainly neutrophils in young healthy subjects. The stress induced by the sleep restriction could be one mechanism involved.
At the time of diagnosis, patients can have very, very high white blood cell counts. Typically a healthy person has a white blood cell count of about 4,000-11,000. Patients with acute or even chronic leukemia may come in with a white blood cell count up into the 100,000-400,000 range.
A high white blood count may mean you have one of the following conditions: A bacterial or viral infection. An inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis. An allergy.
As you can see from these two case studies, fever and a high total WBC count don't necessarily indicate an infection. Use the components of the WBC differential—the percentage of bands and neutrophils—to get a full picture of your patient's condition.
Hematologists treat all kinds of blood diseases. You may see a hematologist if your primary care provider recommends you see a specialist because your blood tests show abnormal blood cell count or coagulation levels.
Examples of tumor markers include prostate-specific antigen (PSA) for prostate cancer and cancer antigen 125 (CA 125) for ovarian cancer. Other examples include carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) for colon cancer and alpha-fetoprotein for testicular cancer. Tests to look for cancer cells.
Blood tests can: check your general health, including how well your liver and kidneys are working. check numbers of blood cells. help diagnose cancer and other conditions.
Chronic leukemia involves more-mature blood cells. These blood cells replicate or accumulate more slowly and can function normally for a period of time. Some forms of chronic leukemia initially produce no early symptoms and can go unnoticed or undiagnosed for years.
Early Symptoms of Acute Leukemia
Shortness of breath. Fatigue. Unexplained fever. Night sweats.