Understanding lab results

Doctors use a variety of lab and imaging tests.

These test help detect (diagnose) a blood cancer (leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, myelodysplastic syndromes or myeloproliferative disease). Sometimes, your doctor may request that you do more than one test to confirm your diagnosis.
Get an overview of tests for blood cancers, understand what different lab and imaging tests are used for,
and find out how to prepare for your tests.

Together with a physical examination and detailed medical history, your doctor will use test results to:

  • Confirm a blood cancer diagnosis, its specific subtype and its stage

  • Decide whether additional tests are needed

  • Determine your risk and expected outcome (prognosis)

  • Guide treatment decisions

  • Monitor your condition if treatment isn't yet needed ("watch and wait")

  • Measure your response to treatment during and after therapy

  • Track your health during and after treatment

Your doctor may order additional tests if you have multiple medical conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes or other illnesses (called comorbidities) that may affect your body's ability to fight infection.

More on this topic

If you need help understanding your blood test results watch the following video.