The natural defense system of the human body contains a number of mechanisms. From skin which keeps the majority of infections away from our internal organs to the mucous coverings in our nasal passageways, the human natural defense system is fairly sound.
However, there are obviously still many illnesses that can successfully penetrate such defenses, and at that point it becomes the responsibility of internal agents to take up the fight. More specifically, white blood cells are essential for combating illness.
White blood cells include a type of cell called a neutrophil granulocyte. Neutrophil granulocytes are white blood cells that can fight against infections. Without these cells, any fight against infections is severely limited.
Neutrophils are divided into two different types:
An individual’s Absolute Neutrophil Count (ANC) is representative of the total number of both of these types of cells, per set volume of white blood cells.
Because of the importance of the presence of these cells, a calculation known as the “ANC Calculation” has been formulated. This calculation determines the number of neutrophils per microliter of white blood cells and takes into account both the number of segs and the number of bands. While most individuals may not need to regularly be informed about their ANC number, others who are at a higher risk of infection should stay aware of this information. For example, chemotherapy patients typically are alerted as to their personal ANC numbers.
Ideally, an ANC number should be above 1,500. (This refers to values that are reported in cells per microliter; you may need to use appropriate conversion factors if necessary to determine a value comparable with this standard.) While the range for a relatively healthy ANC number is somewhat broad, it should be noted that any individual with an ANC number below 500 (again, as calculated in cells per microliter) is at a high risk for suffering from infection.
Anyone who suffers from a low ANC number is said to be suffering from Neutropenia, while anyone who has too high a concentration of neutrophils is said to have Neutrophilia.
An ANC number can be calculated “by hand” by working out the ANC equation. This equation uses the percentage of segs (mature neutrophils) and bands (immature neutrophils) and the total white blood cell count to determine the concentration of neutrophils per microliter.
However, an easier method to calculate one’s ANC would be to use an online ANC calculator. This calculator is programmed to use the same official ANC formula but prevents personal calculation errors since it does all the “work” for you.
To use this calculator, an individual only needs to know his/her white blood cell count, percentage of mature neutrophils, and percentage of bands. The white blood cell count (WBC) should be reported in cells per cubic millimeter. Upon determining each of these values, an individual can simply plug each value into the appropriate box in the online ANC calculator and hit “calculate” when all values are entered. The resulting number will then report the user’s ANC number.