Red Blood Cell Count

Probably a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but I looked at my RBC (Red Blood Cell count) taken prior to my first chemo session (FEC) and it was low, 3.81. Then, I noticed that my RBC taken prior to my second chemo session was 3.74. I realise that a low RBC normally indicates anemia, which I’ve never previously suffered from, and that chemo can bring the count down, but then why was my count so low prior to the first chemo. So confused, does anyone have possible answers to this?

Hi Myras,
I am not an expert on this but, my understanding is that HB measures the haemaglobin in the blood and a low HB would indicate anaemia - not sure about RBC though. I hope this helps

Hi there,

Red blood count is the total number of red blood cells floating around in your body. There are normal ranges for men and women but in certain conditions these can vary.

It is the red blood cells that carry 4 molecules of haemoglobin (Hb) each Each molecule has a globin part and a haem part .

Now for the important bit…the haem part contains iron which combines very easily with oxygen.When the RBC’s are in the lungs oxygen is picked up to distribute to the body.

So in fact it is the haemoglobin quantity in the body which indicates if you are anaemic. As I remember the normal range for Hb is 11.5 - 16 grams per litre for women.

Thus there is a connection between the two indices.

Hi Ruftikins

Even more confused now, my haemoglobin is normal at 12.8, yet before chemo one my red blood count was 3.81 and before the second chemo it was 3.74. Both low, even before chemo. So confused, does anyone have possible answers to this?

Hi Myras

could this have been a typo or some other silly error?? Maybe it was meant to be 13.81 and 13.75. If your RBC was at 3.81 there is no way they would start chemo - I think you would have needed a blood transfusion. These things can happen it is worth asking the staff just to clear this up for your own peace of mind. If you are worried about test results never be afraid to discuss them with the health staff that is one of the things they are there for.

Hope the chemo is not too bad for you - good luck

Gosh this has upset me that I could not reassure you earlier.

I tried to explain what a normal range for red blood count is but did not mention that the oncs are not haematology doctors and are not as familiar with the results as their own field so they rely on a prompter next to the values. These say HIGH if over normal range and LOW if below.
Lots of people can NORMALLY fall outside the range or , like you, Myras be on treatment which affects it slightly.I work in a haematology lab and your count is not bad believe me.

This is different to haemoglobin which is your bodies ability to transport the oxygen and can be affected in different ways.

Regards Ruftikins