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What is an Absolute Neutrophil Count (ANC) Profile test?

Neutrophils are components of white blood cells (WBCs), which help in fighting infections. Increased destruction or use of neutrophils during an active infection or underproduction of neutrophils due to physiological conditions can result in neutropenia (a medical condition characterised by a reduction in WBC count) and consequently a higher chance of infections.

An absolute neutrophil count test helps detect the total number of neutrophils present in the bloodstream in such conditions to determine the presence of neutropenia, It aids in the diagnosing infections, inflammation, and leukaemia and is also helpful in monitoring the patient’s immune system before, during and after treatment.

  1. Why is an ANC Profile test performed?
  2. How do you prepare for an ANC Profile test?
  3. How is an ANC Profile test performed?
  4. What do ANC Profile test results indicate?

This test is mainly done to diagnose neutropenia. The main causes of neutropenia are mentioned below:

Neutropenia can make the body prone to infections. The most common signs and symptoms of an infection include:

  • Fever with chills
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Mouth sores
  • Presence of white and red patches in the mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Pain or burning while micturition (urination)
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Diarrhoea
  • Severe cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Redness, swelling and pain in the rectal area
  • Drainage or pus formation
  • Redness or swelling from a cut, sore, incision, venous access device or drainage tube
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Itching in the vaginal area

There is no special preparation needed for this test. However, it is advisable that you inform your doctor if you are on any medication or supplements. He/she can advise you to stop certain medications that can alter test results.

ANC test is a simple procedure in which a blood sample will be drawn from a vein in your arm. Your healthcare provider will first clean the needle injection site with alcohol. A needle is then inserted into the vein, and a blood sample is obtained. The injection site is pressed firmly, and a cotton ball or gauze pad is placed over that area to stop bleeding. The collected blood sample is sent to a lab for examination.

Normal results: Neutrophils constitute for about 40-60% of the total blood count. The normal range for ANC is 3-7 x 109/litre (L)

Abnormal results: ANC is usually increased in the following conditions:

  • Eclampsia (convulsions, seizures or coma in a pregnant woman)
  • Gout (inflammatory arthritis characterised by high uric acid levels in blood)
  • Acute or chronic forms of leukaemia (cancer of blood-forming tissues)
  • Acute infection
  • Acute stress
  • Myeloproliferative diseases (diseases of the bone marrow and blood)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (a long-term autoimmune disorder, which primarily affects joints with pain and swelling as the main symptoms)
  • Rheumatic fever (an inflammatory condition that can develop as a complication of a Group A streptococcal infection)
  • Thyroiditis (inflammation of thyroid gland)
  • Trauma
  • Cigarette smoking

    A decreased absolute neutrophil count is observed in the following conditions:

  • Aplastic anaemia (a rare disease in which the body fails to produce blood cells in sufficient numbers)
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Viral infection
  • Severe bacterial infection

Disclaimer: All results must be clinically correlated with the patient’s complaints to make a complete and accurate diagnosis. The above information is provided from a purely educational point of view and is in no way a substitute for medical advice by a qualified doctor.

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  1. National Cancer Institute [Internet]. Bethesda: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms
  2. Insight. [internet]. Dana Farber cancer institute; Boston, Massachusetts. What is Neutropenia and How Is It Treated?.
  3. Canadian Cancer Society. Low white blood cell count. Canada. [internet].
  4. University of Rochester Medical Center. White Cell Count. Rochester, New York. [internet].
  5. Penn State Health. Blood differential test. Milton S. Hershey Medical Center; Pennsylvania