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Blood Chemistry Studies

A blood chemistry study is a laboratory test performed to measure the amount of certain substances in the blood. These include electrolytes, enzymes, fats, proteins, and glucose (sugar).

Measuring these substances provides information about how a person’s organs such as the liver and kidneys are functioning. It is important to measure organ function during cancer treatment. An abnormal amount of a substance in the blood can be a sign of disease or side effect of treatment.

Blood chemistry studies are used to help diagnose and monitor many conditions before, during, and after treatment.

There are different types of blood chemistry studies. Many are grouped together in panels. Others may be ordered individually to screen or monitor disease processes.

Common panels include electrolyte, kidney, liver, basic metabolic, comprehensive metabolic, and lipid.

Some of the tests require fasting (not eating any food) before the test. The care team will tell patients how to prepare.

  • Electrolyte

Electrolytes are minerals that help maintain fluid levels and acid-base balance in the body. They include sodium, potassium, chloride, and bicarbonate. Abnormal electrolyte levels may be a sign of dehydration, kidney disease, liver disease, heart failure, or high blood pressure.

  • Kidney

These tests evaluate kidney function. The tests measure levels of certain substances, include several minerals, proteins, glucose, and electrolytes. Substances measured may include albumin, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, and estimated glomerular filtration rate. Abnormal levels of these substances may be signs of kidney problems.

  • Liver

These tests evaluate liver function. Substances measured may include alanine aminotransferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), aspartate transaminase (AST), bilirubin, albumin, and total protein. Abnormal levels of these substances may be signs of liver problems.

  • Basic Metabolic

The basic metabolic panel is a group of tests that measures different chemicals in the blood. The tests can provide information about kidney and respiratory system function along with glucose levels, electrolyte and acid/base balance.

  • Comprehensive Metabolic

A comprehensive metabolic panel is a basic metabolic panel with the addition of liver function tests and certain blood proteins.

  • Lipid

The lipid panel measures total cholesterol, high-density lipoproteins (HDL), low density lipoproteins (LDL), and triglycerides. These may be used to evaluate nutrition or to monitor response to drug therapy.

Other tests may include thyroid and reproductive hormones, tumor markers, iron and vitamin status, and cardiac function.


Reviewed: August 2018