Thursday, March 24, 2011

Latest Lab Results

After a while, you go crazy looking at numbers: lab results, survival rates, syndrome-symptom percentages; yet none of these numbers ever unlock any absolutes. When you have a rare disease, it's largely guesswork - and you just have to hope that your doctor is a good guesser.

Because the doctors are really shooting in the dark a lot of the time with carcinoid cancer, I've learned that it's important to become an active participant in your own medical care, rather than a passive recipient. This is why I get copies of EVERYTHING and spend the time going over the reports - to help me better understand and see my condition more clearly. I know my latest lab tests are only guideposts and not definitive answers, but right now I'll take any guidance I can get.

Lab Results

There were only 3 minor "flags" on my recent lab work up: low hemoglobin, low MCHC, and high neutrophils. None of these "abnormal" results are off the charts - so I'm not going to read too much into the results, but I am not going to ignore them either. I think more useful than the raw numbers may be to compare my results from this last set of blood work to my 2/19/10 lab results (pre-tumor removal).

Low Hemoglobin Count
Hemoglobin measures the concentration of the oxygen in our blood. Low hemoglobin numbers can be caused by a variety of things including anemia, thyroid problems, an enlarged spleen or cancer. Generally, it's primary cause is anemia. It's important to note, however, that some healthy women have naturally low hemoglobin counts - so a slightly lower hemoglobin count may mean absolutely nothing at all. "Low hemoglobin" is anything lower than 12 grams per deciliter for women. (Mayo Clinic)
2/19/10: hemoglobin 11.6 g/dl
3/8/11: hemoglobin 10.7 g/dl

Low MCHC Count
MCHC stands for "mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration), and it measures the amount of hemoglobin in red blood cells, and uses both HGB and HCT to calculate its range. Low levels of MCHC indicate anemia. "Normal MCHC" is anything in the range of 32.0-36.0%
2/19/10: MCHC 31.9%
3/8/11: MCHC 31.4%

High Neutrophils Count
Neutrophils are made in the bone marrow, and are mature white blood cells. An abnormally high concentration of neutrophils can be caused by an acute bacterial infection, inflammatory disease, or spread of cancer in the body."Normal neutrophils" is anything in the range 40-74
2/19/10: neutrophils 64
3/8/11: neutrophils 76

So in total - nothing earth shattering or ground breaking; just a few more little pieces to a massive puzzle.

* On a positive note, since Gary and I changed our eating habits, we both lowered our LDL cholesterol from "high" to "ideal" levels.


  1. I know exactly how you feel about blood results. I am down to 4 months visits. Well, February 22nd I had bloodwork done and after a call a couple days later of elevated numbers, you can't help but to worry a little bit. Even though I had to wait 6 weeks before its done again, apart of you still worries. My first thought was, well, since they waiting 6 weeks then it must not be too serious. I know how you feel...

  2. Hey sweetie,

    You are correct that the most important marker is looking how your body personally responds and keeping track of changes within yourself. You are being a very good, empowered patient. If those are the only flags, I would just keep a watchful eye on them but not overly worry about them. They are just too subtle to be definitive, and there could many causes.

    Your low hemoglobin and low mchc are pretty common issues. If your red blood cells are abnormally sized or numbered, that's generally a stronger warning. How's your iron levels? I'm wondering if you are having absorption issues of vitamins or breaking down your food? Who is your "team" of practitioners? You have the surgeon, I know, but who are you seeing for primary care issues, GI issues, etc? I know you had a great team for the tumor removal. You definitely still need a team!

    High neutrophils makes sense. The majority of your White Blood Cells are neutrophils so seeing them elevated when you aren't feeling well just means, yeah, your body knows you aren't feeling too well.

    And great job on the LDL's! Keep me informed.

    Sistah, OMS I

  3. Thanks Sunshine always helps to have someone who knows what it feels like to not trust your body (or your test results)

    Meredith - I am so proud of you. Thanks for the call, I know with med school you barely have a second but you took an hour to make me feel better. I love you - you're going to be a GREAT doctor. xxxxoooo six

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