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White Blood Cell

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Updated May 05, 2009

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Definition: a type of blood cell that functions as a defender against bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other foreign invaders. They are a vital component to the immune system.

A reduced amount of white blood cells (WBC) in the body makes a person more susceptible to infection. This can be a common side effect of chemotherapy. People who have a low WBC count need to be especially cautious to avoid infection.

A high amount of white blood cells in the body can indicate the presence of an infection or also a blood disease, like leukemia.
Also Known As: WBC, leukocyte
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