Complete blood count (CBC): What is it?

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Complete blood count (CBC): What does it measure?

Question

What does a complete blood count measure?

Anne
Minnesota

Answer

A complete blood count (CBC) is a common blood test used to evaluate your overall health and detect a wide range of disorders, including anemia, infection and leukemia. The complete blood count test measures several components of your blood, including:

  • Red blood cells, which carry oxygen
  • White blood cells, which fight infection
  • Hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells
  • Hematocrit, the proportion of red blood cells to plasma in the blood
  • Platelets, which help with blood clotting

A complete blood count may be done as part of a routine medical examination. Abnormal increases or decreases in cell counts may indicate an underlying medical condition that warrants further evaluation.

Normal complete blood count (CBC) results
Red blood cell count Male: 4.7 million to 6.1 million cells/mcL
Female: 4.2 million to 5.4 million cells/mcL
White blood cell count 4,500 to 10,000 cells/mcL
Hemoglobin Male: 13.8 to 17.2 gm/dL
Female: 12.1 to 15.1 gm/dL
Hematocrit Male: 40.7 percent to 50.3 percent
Female: 36.1 percent to 44.3 percent
Platelet count 150,000 to 450,000 platelets/mcL

Last Updated: 03/20/2008
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