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Question : What is the difference between lymphocyte percentage and lymphocyte count? My CBC shows normal lymphocyte percentage but low lymphocyte count. My white blood cell count is normal as well.
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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August 02, 2013
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CBC is short  for complete blood count. It’s a blood test that measures the total number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

The machine that performs CBCs also gives readings on several parameters related to the red and white cell counts. A standard CBC report shows the total number of white blood cells. Along with a breakdown of the percentages of granulocytes (neutrophils), lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils.

A normal lymphocyte percentage has a wide range, 15 to 40 percent of your total white blood cells. Personally, I find more value in the actual lymphocyte count. You can easily calculate this. Just multiply the total white blood cell count times the percentage of lymphocytes.

Our blood lymphocyte counts vary depending on many things. Such as having a viral infection or taking certain drugs, for example. Even if you are perfectly healthy and take no medicine, your total lymphocyte count might appear to be low.

Here’s an example. Let’s say your total white blood cell count is normal at 6,000. And your lymphocyte percentage is also normal at 16 percent. Your absolute lymphocyte count is 960. The lab might report this number as “low.” But in reality —this is likely perfectly normal for you. And most important, it  has no reflection on your ability to fight infection.

 

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