What Is Granulocytosis?
Granulocytosis occurs when there are
too many granulocytes in the blood. It’s a condition that’s closely related to chronic
myelogenous leukemia (CML) and other bone marrow disorders.
Granulocytes are white blood cells
that have small granules or particles. These granules contain numerous proteins
that are responsible for helping the immune system fight off viruses and
bacteria. Neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils are three types of
Granulocytes form and mature in the
bone marrow. Bone marrow is the spongy tissue found inside many of your bones.
Bone marrow contains stem cells, which eventually develop into different types
of blood cells, including granulocytes. When granulocytes leave the bone
marrow, they circulate through the bloodstream and respond to signals from the
immune system. Their role is to attack foreign substances that cause
inflammation or infection.
An increase in the number of
granulocytes occurs in response to infections, autoimmune diseases, and blood
cell cancers. An abnormally high white blood cell count usually indicates an
infection or disease. Granulocytosis is one condition characterized by a high
white blood cell count.
Granulocytosis and Chronic
Granulocytosis is the main feature
of CML. This is a rare
blood cell cancer that begins in the bone marrow. CML is most common among
older adults, but it can occur in people of any age. It also affects men more
than women. People who have been exposed to radiation, such as radiation
therapy for cancer treatment, have a higher risk of developing CML as well.
People with CML may develop the
- abnormal bleeding
- frequent infections
- a loss of appetite
- pale skin
- pain below the ribs on the left side of the body
- excessive sweating during sleep
CML causes a buildup of underdeveloped
granulocytes in the bone marrow and bloodstream. Normally, the bone marrow
produces immature stem cells in a controlled way. These cells then mature and
turn into red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets. In people with CML,
this process doesn’t work correctly. Immature granulocytes and other white
blood cells begin to form and multiply uncontrollably, crowding out all the
other types of necessary blood cells.
What Causes Granulocytosis?
The presence of granulocytes in the
bloodstream is normal. These white blood cells are part of your immune system
and help defend your body against harmful bacteria and viruses. However, a high
number of granulocytes in the blood isn’t normal and usually indicates a health
Bone marrow disorders are a major
cause of granulocytosis. Bone marrow is the sponge-like tissue found inside of
the bones. It contains the stem cells that produce white blood cells, red blood
cells, and platelets. Your white blood cells help fight infection and
inflammation, your red blood cells carry oxygen and nutrients, and your
platelets enable the blood to clot.
Common bone marrow disorders that can
cause granulocytosis are:
- CML, which is a cancer of the white blood cells
- polycythemia vera, which is a disorder in which the
body produces too many red blood cells
- primary thrombocythemia, which is a disease in
which the body produces too many platelets
- primary myelofibrosis, which is a blood cancer
that causes a buildup of scar tissue in the bone marrow
Granulocytosis can also be seen in
How Is Granulocytosis
This condition is normally diagnosed
with a physical examination and a
complete blood count (CBC).
The CBC is a test that measures the amount of red blood cells, white blood
cells, and platelets in your blood. Abnormal numbers of these cells can
indicate that you have a disease. If you have granulocytosis, you have too many
granulocytes in your blood.
The CBC involves giving a sample of
blood. You’ll have blood drawn from a vein in your arm. The blood sample will
then be sent to a lab for analysis. As with any blood draw, there’s a small
chance of discomfort, bleeding, or infection.
How Is Granulocytosis Treated?
Granulocytosis is a symptom of other
conditions. It’s not considered a separate disease, and it usually isn’t
treated directly. Instead, treatment addresses the underlying condition causing
granulocytosis. Treating any existing conditions should also reduce the number
of granulocytes in your blood.
Your treatment will depend on the
disease causing your granulocytosis. If it’s related to cancer, your treatment
may include the following:
- During a bone marrow transplant, your bone
marrow will be removed and replaced with healthy stem cells. These stem cells
may come from your body or from a donor’s body.
- Chemotherapy is an aggressive form of chemical
drug therapy that helps destroy cancerous cells in the body.
- Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to
shrink tumors and kill cancerous cells.
- Surgery to remove the spleen may be recommended
for people with CML.
Some conditions respond well to
medications, and other conditions can be treated with blood transfusions. Your
doctor will determine the best treatment plan for you.