Blood Disorders

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Leukopenia

Leukopenia is the medical term for low white blood cell count. In most cases it is due to low neutrophils (neutropenia) and/or low lymphocytes (lymphocytopenia). Both of these cell types play roles in your body’s defense against infections. Infections (such as viral infections), autoimmune disorders (such as lupus), certain medications (including chemotherapy and some antibiotics), radiation therapy, and bone marrow diseases (such as leukemia or myelodysplastic syndromes) can lead to decreases in neutrophils and/or lymphocytes.

Symptoms of a leukopenia include fever, frequent infections, and infections that won’t resolve.

Your doctor may refer you to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance so a specialist can diagnose the cause of your low white count and provide treatment to correct it or prevent infections. The diagnostic tests you need may include blood tests, such as complete blood counts (CBCs), blood cultures, and specialized blood tests, like flow cytometry. A bone marrow biopsy may also be done if the cause is not apparent from the blood tests.