The absolute neutrophil count (ANC) is the total number of neutrophils (segmented neutrophils plus band forms of neutrophils) your child has to fight a bacterial or fungal infection. A normal ANC is greater than 1,500. And a low ANC is called neutropenia.
To find out what your child's ANC value is, simply add the percentage of segs plus the percentage of bands and multiply the number by the WBC count. For example, if your child's WBC is 4,000 and he has 20 percent segs and 10 percent bands:
Multiply the WBC number by the percentage or decimal:
|20% segs ||4,000 WBC |
|+10% bands||x.30 neutrophils |
|30% (or .30) total neutrophils||1,200 ANC |
Your child's ANC would be 1,200.
Sometimes when your child's ANC is low, it may be necessary to avoid some activities. You will need to watch for a rise in your child's temperature and call the oncology service when it is over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the ANC remains very low, a medicine known as Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factor, or G-CSF, may be given to help the ANC count to rise. This medication is given to stimulate the bone marrow to produce more neutrophils. Initially, chemotherapy and/or radiation, may cause your child's ANC to drop as low as zero.
If your child is in the hospital and his ANC is less than 500, he will be placed in protective isolation. This is to protect him from being exposed to possible infections. (However, most of the infections children get are caused by normal bacteria and fungi that live in or on your child's body.) Protective isolation means your child will have a private room and the door will remain closed. People will need to wash their hands as they go into or out of the room. People with colds or the flu will not be able to visit your child.
After chemotherapy, radiation, or bone marrow transplant, your child's ANC will slowly increase, showing the bone marrow is recovering and immune function is returning.