What is the total white blood cell count

Blood test

If leukemia or a related disease is suspected, the patient's blood is examined first. In this way, a doctor can obtain information about the amount and composition of the blood cells.

Small and large blood count

The blood count is understood to be the quantitative composition of the blood or its solid components, i.e. the cells. In order to be able to determine what is "normal", the blood values ​​of healthy men and women of all ages were examined and mean values ​​- so-called reference ranges - were created from them. in the small blood count In addition to the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and blood platelets, the hemoglobin and hematocrit values ​​are also determined.

Small blood count

Reference range



M: 4.5-6.3 / pl
F: 4.2-5.5 / pl

Red blood cells (erythrocytes) carry oxygen from the lungs to all cells in the body.


4.4-11.3 / nl

White blood cells (leukocytes) include granulocytes, monocytes, and lymphocytes. Together they form the body's own immune system to defend itself against pathogens.


136-423 / nl

Platelets (blood platelets) play an important role in clotting, which in healthy people is triggered by injuries and which leads to the rapid closure of wounds.


M: 43.2-49.2%
F: 36.8-45.4%

The hematocrit value describes the percentage of blood cells in the total volume of blood. Since approximately 99% of all blood cells are erythrocytes, the hematocrit value is roughly the same as the number of red blood cells.

Hemoglobin (Hb)

M: 14.0-17.5 g / dl
F: 12.3-15.3 g / dl

Hemoglobin is the iron-containing red blood pigment in erythrocytes that binds oxygen.

M: men; Q: women; nl = nanoliter = 1 billionth of a liter; pl = picolitre = 1 trillionth of a liter

The great blood count is made up of the small blood count and the Differential blood count together.

Differential blood count

The total leukocyte count is recorded in the small blood count. The white blood cells can be further subdivided into the three subgroups granulocytes, monocytes and lymphocytes. Their quantitative proportions are determined in the so-called differential blood count. In addition to the number of cells, a statement can also be made about the appearance of the cells. This enables a further subdivision of the granulocytes.

Differential blood count

Share of the total leukocyte count



55-70 %
2-4 %
0-1 %

Granulocytes are part of the innate immune system. They protect the body unspecifically from bacteria, fungi and parasites.


2-6 %

Monocytes can migrate from the blood into the tissues. As scavenger cells (macrophages), they remove infectious agents, dead cells and foreign bodies.


25-40 %

Lymphocytes are part of the acquired immune system and can specifically recognize and destroy pathogens.

Blood count in leukemia

If leukemia is suspected, blood is taken from the arm vein and examined in a diagnostic laboratory. The results of the analysis are then compared with the reference ranges mentioned above. In the case of leukemia and related diseases, the following deviations in blood values ​​can occur:


Anemia or anemia is characterized by a lack of erythrocytes

acute leukemia, CML, MDS, MPN


Increase in the number of red blood cells

MPN (polycythemia vera)


Lack of white blood cells

acute leukemia, MDS, MPN


Increased number of white blood cells

acute leukemia, CML, MPN


Lack of platelets

acute leukemia, MDS, MPN


Increased number of platelets

CML, MPN (essential thrombocythemia)

The deviations can sometimes be serious: While the leukocyte count of a healthy person is 4-10 cells per picoliter, it can have values ​​of up to 200 cells per picoliter in a patient suffering from leukemia.

However, high or low blood values ​​are not specific to leukemia and can also occur in the context of various other diseases. In any case, it is advisable to clarify the cause. In conjunction with the medical history and other physical examinations, however, the blood count can provide an indication of leukemia or substantiate a suspicion of leukemia. It is essential to examine the patient's bone marrow to confirm the diagnosis.

Created by: Hehn (Information Center) on July 25, 2014, last change: March 30, 2015


Do you have any questions about leukemia or are you looking for a clinic? The information center will be happy to advise you.

more on the subject

All types of blood cells are made from a common stem cell in the bone marrow.