During most visits, you will have your blood drawn. This allows us to run a variety of blood tests to help better treat you by providing us with information and an accurate diagnosis. The most common blood test we do is called a CBC or Complete Blood Count (refer to Complete Blood Count information sheet for important details). While receiving chemotherapy, we will check your blood count at least weekly, sometimes more frequently. In general, the CBC gives us information on how your body is responding to and tolerating your cancer treatment. This test is run in our office and the results are available immediately. We will give you a copy of your results and review any special precautions you may need to take. To minimize the number of times you have blood drawn, we encourage you to take your results to other physician appointments.

In addition to the CBC test, we will need to monitor your sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium levels on a frequent basis. These are all important electrolytes that carry out key cellular and bodily functions. We also will monitor your kidney and liver function closely through other blood tests. These tests are more specialized and are sent to an outside lab for analysis. These test results are typically available within 24 hours. We will always notify you if there is any value that is abnormal and requires immediate medical attention. Normal results will be reviewed at your next scheduled appointment.

“Tumor markers” is a general term used to describe a blood test that helps monitor how well your body is responding to a given cancer treatment. There are a variety of tumor markers that can vary depending on the type and kind of disease. Not all cancers have available tumor markers. Typically, tumor markers are monitored every one to three months. The frequency of monitoring is highly variable and is determined by your doctor. Tumor marker results are sent to an outside lab and generally take 48 – 72 hours to obtain results. In some special cases, tumor markers are so highly specific that they need to be sent to very advanced labs such as the Mayo Clinic. These results can sometimes take up to 10 – 14 days.