Lab Test Glossary W

White Blood Cell Count (WBC count): White blood cells (WBCs) are the major infection-fighting cells, but are also involved in immune system responses to foreign bodies and tissues such as allergens and tumors. The WBC count measures the total number of WBCs present in the blood. A high WBC count is typically seen in response to a sudden onset of infection, trauma, or inflammation. Far less common conditions resulting in an elevation of WBCs include leukemia, lymphoma or other types of cancer. A low WBC count can arise in bone marrow failure (as occurs with radiation therapy or chemotherapy), overwhelming infections, or the presence of a substance resulting in cell destruction (e.g., drugs, heavy metals, or poison). A low WBC count is also seen in diseases of the immune system or autoimmune disease (e.g., systemic lupus erythematosus).
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