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Understanding Lab Results

Your doctor will frequently order lab tests. These tests are used to:

  • Screen for cancer prior to any outward signs of disease showing.
  • Diagnose and stage cancers and recurrences.
  • Plan your cancer treatment.
  • Monitor you during treatment.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your treatment.

We routinely perform two tests for our patients:

  • A complete blood count (CBC) measures the three basic types of blood cells (white, red, and platelet), each of which can be damaged during cancer treatment.
  • A chemistry panel looks at specific chemical compositions within your blood.

Lab results provide insights into your overall health, the effectiveness of your treatment, or can indicate things that need to be closely monitored. Your doctor may adjust your treatment plan based on your lab results.

Our cancer centers are equipped to draw blood or collect specimens for analysis. The majority of routine lab tests will be performed at your cancer center. Occasionally, we’ll send samples to an outside lab for testing. Some insurance companies also require testing be performed by their contracted labs. All testing is handled in a confidential manner, no matter where it is performed.

Times can vary for processing and receiving lab results, but most outside labs report back quickly. Your doctor will review your results as soon as they become available and contact you if any require immediate attention.