Abnormal WBC refers to the infection-fighting white blood cells in the body. When a white blood cell (WBC) count is abnormal, it generally means that the patient is suffering from leukemia, or cancer of the blood. There are several types of cancer that affect different types of white blood cells.
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most common form of leukemia, according to Children’s Hospital.org, making up 75 to 80 percent of all childhood leukemia cases. In this type of leukemia, the lymphocytes, or infection-fighting cells, are affected, as is the cell lining. The cancer also prompts the bone marrow to produce too many abnormal cells. All these combined render the body incapable of fighting off infection.
Acute Myelogenous Leukemia
Acute myelogenous leukemia is another cancer that affects granulocytes, which also fight infections. During acute myelogenous leukemia, the granulocytes are overproduced and do not mature properly, rendering them unable to fight infections. This onset is quick, usually developing over a period of a few days to a few weeks. Genetic conditions predispose children to developing this disease.
Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
Chronic myelogenous leukemia works the same way as the acute version; however, this disease develops over a longer period of time, usually months or years. A specific chromosomal defect is found in every patient that has chronic myelogenous leukemia.
Development of Abnormal WBC
The type of cancer a patient develops depends on what point during the cells’ development the abnormality occurs. The abnormal cells are produced when the bone marrow begins to function abnormally.
Abnormalities can occur in any one of the many types of white blood cells, including B-lymphocytes, T-lymphocytes, nuetrophils, or macrophages.