ZocdocAnswersCan breast cancer cause a low white blood cell count?

Question

Can breast cancer cause a low white blood cell count?

I know it is probably paranoia, but I am worried that my low white blood cell count is caused by breast cancer. Could that be true? A doctor checked me out and said not to worry because my breasts are 'cystic' but not cancerous. Now, though, I had blood work done and a doctor said I had a low white blood cell count. Could these things be connected?

Answer

Breast cancer can cause a low white blood cell count, but this only occurs when the disease is widely metastatic and you would have many other symptoms. With that said I think the chances of these two being related are very unlikely. Patients with breast cancer that are getting chemotherapy will have low white counts secondary to the chemo. Cystic breasts are very common, but can be a source of anxiety because they feel "lumpy" which can be confused as cancer if you don't know what the difference is. This doesn't mean that you can't develop breast cancer, so you'll still need to have yearly breast exams to make sure nothing new appears. A normal white count varies widely depending on the patient. A patient's white count of 2,500 can be just as normal as another white count of 11,000. Unless you are developing unusual or frequent infections, I would not focus on the absolute number of your white count unless it is far below what could be considered normal. I suggest that at your next visit with your primary care physician you discuss these issues. He or she may want to follow your white cell count depending on how low it actually is, or if you have other symptoms. Getting routine checkups including yearly breast exams by a physician are very good steps towards staying healthy. Good luck.

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