CLL Support Association
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Take 2 - anyone ever had a smear indicating "non-specific red blood cell changes"?

Hi all,

I am new to the community, have been diagnosed in October 2016.

My latest blood smear indicated "non-specific red blood cell changes". My appointment with my oncologist is next week, but of course my mind is racing in all direction, and I can't find much info online regarding this. Do you have any idea what it means? Thank you very much.

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Hi Amelie1979!

I can't comment on the red blood cell non-specific changes but I can tell you that at one of my visits, the labs came back to say unknown white blood cells found. Then they noted that they were prolymphocytes (3%). I guess those aren't a big deal until they hit around 55% and then a transformation to PLL is possible. However, at the next visit, all was normal again and no sign of those little gremlins. I know saying, "don't overthink it" is easy, but try and relax until you visit your doctor and make sure you ask all the questions you want about the red blood cells. Hopefully, this was just a blip.

Take care,

Albie

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Thank you Albie for your kind response. I'll do my best!

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Hi Amelie. I've never before seen this question asked before and I'm sure all us ladies would iike to know

The answer you get. We are always learning on this site

So i hope you will come back with an answer. Meanwhile as Albie sggests try not to worry too much,

Easy to sayI know .Please take care and I am thinking of you. You are doing the correct thing n getting it checked. Well done.

Best wishes

Sue.

Ps if the worry is too much check it with your local doctor for peace of mind.

Welcome to the site.

Sue

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I will make sure to post the info here when I get it next week. Thank you. This group is really helpful.

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The following site is about diagnosis by blood smears. I hope it is helpful to you.

nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/N...

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Thank you, it was an interesting read. Now I only have to be patient! I guess we learn that quickly with the watch and wait! Lol

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Hi Amelie1979,

I can offer a little guidance and reassurance, from my experience of examining more than tens of thousands of blood smears.

The comment blood "non-specific red blood cell changes" almost certainly means that there are changes in the red cell morphology but, all considered together, they are non specific and non diagnostic of anything.

Almost always, these changes are as a result of how the blood sample was handled and stored before the smear was made as red cells are quite fragile. Too hot, too cold, sample too old before smear was made or sample shaken around during transport etc are just a few things that can disturb red cells and can lead to non specific changes. In the laboratory I was part of, we used to check the samples for age etc and, as it was a comment with no value to the clinician, we did not report it but made a note on the computer system to alert the next person who looked at the smear to pay particular attention to the red cells. Often the samples are analysed one day but the smear might not be made until after the results are reviewed and could be the next day or even later. In hot or cold weather, the transport conditions are also part of the picture to be considered.

Hope this helps.

Jackie

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Thank you so much Jackie! This is a very informative answer, and it does reassure me a great deal! I was followed up every 3 months up to now and I am hoping to get 6 months now :)

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I'be had multiple weird blood cell comments that worried me a lot but didnt seem to bother the docs. I guess our bone marrow is messed up (scientific term) and therefore mistakes are made in blood cell production. Like and old damaged factory

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Hi, I know this is old, but there is nothing on the internet regarding this note it seems. Did you ever receive an answer about “nonspecific rbc changes”? I have now had two separate blood draws at two separate labs come back with this note, and no one has any answers as to why!

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