Blood studies are tests that are taken to examine a patient’s blood. Blood tests are the most common tests taken for cancer patients. By examining the blood, doctors are able to identify the type of disease the patient has, and based on that they can follow a course of treatment by administering the right treatment dosage.
There are different ways by which blood can be drawn out of a patient depending on your child’s situation. The common method employed to draw blood is to insert a needle into the vein. Children undergoing chemotherapy have a central venous line in place that can be used to draw out blood from them.
How to support your child
Not all children respond in the same way when getting their blood drawn. Some children become anxious about the process while some would like to have advanced knowledge of whether they will be gouging to have their blood drawn. Some are okay with blood becoming drawn from their veins while others prefer finger pokes. Irrespective of the issues that they are having, always ask for the child’s preference, ask them which hand would they stretch out or which finger they would prefer to be poked, this will make them feel as though they exercise some control.
If your child has a fear of needles, tell the medical practitioner so and take the necessary steps required. You can ask the medical team to:
- Divert their concentration from the needle in the younger children. In case of older children, it is better if they feel they are in control
- You can ask the doctor to make use of EMLA before drawing blood, this reduces the discomfort
- You can hold your child’s hand as a means of providing them with comfort
- Plan something fun after blood tests. Buying a candy, getting them ice cream, or offering them awards after the test can create a more positive association with blood tests.
The reaction of your child and their preferences should be given the utmost importance. Understanding the reaction can help you prepare your child accordingly and reduce their anxiety.
What are the types of blood studies?
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
As the name suggests, a total blood count test is done to inspect the parts of a patient’s blood completely. This is the most widely recognized kind of blood test taken in kids having cancer as this is the way specialists decide what the treatment that will be controlled will mean for the bone marrow and where the platelets are produced. It is CBC that will determine whether you are ready for the next round of chemotherapy, whether a transfusion is needed, or whether there are chances of getting an infection.
Depending on your child’s situation, blood can be drawn in different ways. The most common method employed to draw blood is by inserting a needle into the vein. It can also be drawn from the central venous line, a tube that is inserted into the child’s large vein during treatment.
The following information has been reviewed from a CBC test:
- Count of WBC Cells: The quantity of white blood cells that are available in the peripheral blood is taken. These cells are responsible for fighting against infection therefore any abnormal results could be an indication of inflammation, cancer, problems in the bone marrow, and other infections or issues within the body
- Differential count (Diff): refers to the distribution of the various types of white cells throughout the body, the values that are expressed as percentages and change frequently based on the response of what is happening in the patient’s body. A sudden increase in any type of white cells could be an indication of any signs of temporary or chronic conditions.
- Platelet count: This is the count taken to decide the number of platelets present in the blood. These platelets are the smallest type of blood cell and are responsible for helping blood clot. The platelet count is what is taken into consideration to monitor or diagnose diseases. If there is a sharp decrease in the platelet count it means that the person is at a potential risk for severe bleeding in any part of the body.
- Hemoglobin count: Hemoglobin is the substance that is found in the red platelets that are responsible for conveying oxygen all through the body and to different tissues. These counts are also expressed in the percentage of the total blood weight. A high percentage of hemoglobin could be the result of dehydration or kidney problems whereas low numbers indicate anemia. The most well-known justification for iron deficiency is because of extreme blood loss, bone marrow issues, and other issues.
- Hematocrit: the proportion of the level of the red platelets in a given volume of the entire blood. Low numbers indicate that the patient is suffering from anemia and high numbers indicate a result of dehydration or problems in the kidney. The major causes of anemia would be due to issues in the bone marrow, excessive blood loss, malnutrition, and others.
- Reticulocyte count (Retic): This count indicates the percentage of non-nucleated, young erythrocytes present in the blood that is circulated throughout the body. Deciding the number of erythrocytes assists the specialists with computing the rate at which the red platelets are being made in the bone marrow.
Study of blood chemistry (CMP or BMP)
Blood chemistry studies are done to provide information about the functioning of your child’s organs, especially the liver and the kidneys. It is highly important to monitor the organ functioning during cancer treatments so that they can determine whether the sodium, potassium and other elements in the blood are normal.
For blood chemistry studies, the patient’s blood can be drawn in a number of ways depending on the child’s situation. Most commonly it is done by inserting a needle into a vein and sometimes it is drawn from the central venous line, a tube that is inserted into a large vein of the child during the course of treatment.