What we test

Full blood count with differential

The full blood count is used as a broad screening test to check for such disorders as anaemia (decrease in red blood cells or haemoglobin), infection, and many other diseases. It is actually a group of tests that examine different parts of the blood. Results from the following tests provide the broadest picture of your health.

The full blood count measures

Responsible for blood clotting and healing. A high count can indicate a risk of thrombosis, whilst a low count can lead to easy bruising.

Responsible for carrying oxygen around the body. A high count can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, whilst a low count can mean your body isn’t getting the oxygen it needs.

A good measure of your blood's ability to carry oxygen throughout your body. Elevated haemoglobin can be an indicator of lung disease, whilst a low result indicates anaemia.

A measure of the percentage of red blood cells in the total blood volume. Elevated haematocrit can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is a measure of the average size of the RBCs. The MCV is elevated when RBCs are larger than normal, eg in anaemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency. When MCV is decreased, RBCs are smaller than normal as seen in iron deficiency anaemia.

Mean corpuscular haemoglobin (MCH) is a calculation of the average amount of oxygen-carrying haemoglobin inside a red blood cell. Large RBCs are large tend to have a higher MCH, while small red cells would have a lower value.

Mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration (MCHC) is a calculation of the average concentration of haemoglobin inside a red cell. Decreased MCHC is seen in iron deficiency anaemia and thalassaemia.

Responsible for fighting infection. A high count can indicate recent infection and even stress, whilst a low count can result from vitamin deficiencies, liver disease and immune diseases.

Basophils are a type of white blood cell. Basophils can increase in cases of leukaemia, long-standing inflammation and hypersensitivity to food.

A type of white blood cell. Can increase in response to allergic disorders, inflammation of the skin and parasitic infections. They can also occur in response to some infections or to various bone marrow malignancies.

A type of white blood cell. Can increase in response to infection as well as inflammatory disorders, and occasionally with some types of leukaemias. Decreased monocyte levels can indicate bone marrow injury or failure and some forms of leukaemia.

A type of white blood cell. Can increase with bacterial or viral infection, leukaemia, lymphoma, radiation therapy or acute illness. Decreased lymphocyte levels are common in later life but can also indicate steroid medication, stress, lupus and HIV infection.

A type of white blood cell. Can increase in response to bacterial infection, inflammatory disease, steroid medication, or more rarely leukaemia. Decreased neutrophil levels may be the result of severe infection or other conditions.

Red cell distribution width (RDW) is a calculation of the variation in the size of your RBCs. In some anaemias, such as pernicious anaemia (due to vitamin B12 deficiency), the amount of variation in RBC size causes an increase in the RDW.

Test instructions

Print out the pathology form that we email you.

Take your form to your local collection centre to have your sample taken - no need for an appointment.

You do not need to fast for this blood test.

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