Questions submitted by readers and answered by the CLL Society Medical Advisory Board
By Susan Leclair
Hi, I am monitoring my health very closely. I am taking supplements, practicing Intermittent fasting and exercising 30 minutes 3 times a week. I understand taking supplements can have a toxic effect on the body. I also understand that consuming fruits, vegetables, fish, have exposure to toxic chemicals. Can you tell me what are the most important accurate blood tests to take yearly and every 4 months?
The only tests you need are the ones which can reflect changes in your disease. And for those, only you and your physician can determine the choice and frequency.
To do otherwise will give you information that cannot be used correctly.
I have a flow cytometry but do not understand it very well. Could you help me understand the material on the flow cytometry better?
Think of cells as a group of people attending a football game. You can count them but all that gives you is the total. You could separate them by gender but with varying dress and hair styles, you might not get that totally correct.
But you could separate them into groups by those who wear either team’s “regalia”. You could separate them by who wears hoodies or jackets. If the venue is outside, you could separate them on the basis of hats or gloves or scarves.
Similarly, cells have “markers” on their membranes. There are super common ones like thrones that help to move glucose into the cells and some that are super rare like being a blast. Flow cytometery separates cells on the basis of those markers. Take an antibody to marker #1 and tie an orange dye to it. Taken another antibody to marker #2 and tie a blue marker to it. Now mix everything together and look for how much orange is present and how much blue is present.
That is a short hand version of what happens, but I think about the idea without worrying about the technical details. For technical details, apparently your question gave Dr. Koffman the idea that I should write a column of that. Link to article.
Susan Leclair is Chancellor Projessor Emerita at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth; Senior Scientist, at Forensic DNA Associates; and Moderator and Speaker, PatientPower.info – an electronic resource for patients and health care providers.
Originally published in The CLL Tribune Q4 2018.