What exactly is a neutrophil count and what does it mean?

Lori asks:

My doctor says my neutrophil count is 900 and low. He said I am now at risk for infection. Can you explain this more?

Answer from TheCancerJourney.org Team:

There is quite a bit of information on this website about the prevention of infection and neutrophil counts.  Infections can be caused by low white blood cell count, which is also called neutropenia. Neutropenia is one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy. Your bone marrow makes several kinds of white blood cells; one kind, called neutrophils, fights infections. A healthy neutrophil count is 1,500-7,500/mm3. A very low neutrophil count (1,000/mm3 or less) leaves you at risk for infection. If your white blood cell count gets too low, your physician may delay or reduce your chemotherapy. In general, your neutrophil count should gradually increase back to a normal or near normal level within two to three weeks.

In your case, your neutrophil count is at 900, which is quite low, and you should check with your physician to be sure you have adequate follow-up and are following his or her recommendations for preventing infection. Also be sure you know the symptoms about which to call your physician’s office. Here are some recommendations for protecting yourself from infection.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, making sure hands are dry afterwards. Ask your caregivers to do the same.
  • Avoid crowds and avoid contact with others who have symptoms of a cold, the flu, or other respiratory illness.
  • Refrain from bringing live or dried plants into your home.
  • Ask others to take charge of caring for your pet(s) and take special precautions in changing cat litter.
  • Do not make or offer meals that contain undercooked or raw beef, poultry, or seafood or raw eggs.
  • Make sure all produce is washed thoroughly before eating.

We hope this information is helpful for you, and be sure to write us again if you have other questions.

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One Response to “What exactly is a neutrophil count and what does it mean?”

  1. claire says:

    Hi my neutrophil count is 7.6 abnormal can anyone explain this too me xx

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