General Lab Reference Ranges

Laboratory Reference Ranges

Normal ranges may vary from person to person and laboratory to laboratory. Many factors can affect blood chemistry results. Values may be abnormal for reasons other than cancer. The values listed below are generalizations. Each laboratory has specific reference ranges.  

Electrolytes

  • Ammonia: 15-50 µmol/L
  • Ceruloplasmin: 15-60 mg/dL
  • Chloride: 95-105 mmol/L
  • Copper: 70-150 µg/dL
  • Creatinine: 0.8-1.3 mg/dL
  • Blood urea nitrogen: 8-21 mg/dL
  • Ferritin: 12-300 ng/mL (men), 12-150 ng/mL (women)
  • Glucose: 65-110 mg/dL
  • Inorganic phosphorous: 1-1.5 mmol/L
  • Ionized calcium: 1.03-1.23 mmol/L
  • Magnesium: 1.5-2 mEq/L
  • Phosphate: 0.8-1.5 mmol/L
  • Potassium: 3.5-5 mmol/L
  • Pyruvate: 300-900 µg/dL
  • Sodium: 135-145 mmol/L
  • Total calcium: 2-2.6 mmol/L (8.5-10.2 mg/dL)
  • Total iron-binding capacity: 45-85 µmol/L
  • Total serum iron: 65-180 µg/dL (men), 30-170 µg/dL (women)
  • Transferrin: 200-350 mg/dL
  • Urea: 1.2-3 mmol/L
  • Uric acid: 0.18-0.48 mmol/L
  • Zinc: 70-100 µmol/L

Hematology

  • Hemoglobin: 13-17 g/dL (men), 12-15 g/dL (women)
  • Hematocrit 40%-52% (men), 36%-47%
  • Glycosylated hemoglobin 4%-6%
  • Mean corpuscular volume (MCV): 80-100 fL
  • Red blood cell distribution width (RDW): 11.5%-14.5%
  • Mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH): 0.4-0.5 fmol/cell
  • Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC): 30-35 g/dL
  • Reticulocytes 0.5%-1.5%
  • White blood cells (WBC) 4-10 x 10^9/L
  • Neutrophils: 2-8 x 10^9/L
  • Bands: < 1 x 10^9/L
  • Lymphocytes: 1-4 x 10^9/L
  • Monocytes: 0.2-0.8 x 10^9/L
  • Eosinophils: < 0.5 x 10^9/L
  • Platelets: 150-400 x 10^9/L
  • Prothrombin time: 11-14 sec
  • International normalized ratio (INR): 0.9-1.2
  • Activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT): 20-40 sec
  • Fibrinogen: 1.8-4 g/L
  • Bleeding time: 2-9 min

Lipids

  • Triglycerides: 50-150 mg/dL
  • Total cholesterol: 3-5.5 mmol/L
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL): 40-80 mg/dL
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): 85-125 mg/dL

Acid base

  • pH: 7.35-7.45
  • Base excess: (-3)-(+3)
  • H+: 36-44 nmol/L
  • Partial pressure of oxygen (pO2): 75-100 mm Hg
  • Oxygen saturation: 96%-100%
  • Partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2): 35-45 mm Hg
  • Bicarbonate (HCO3): 18-22 mmol/L

Gastrointestinal function

  • Albumin: 35-50 g/L
  • Alkaline phosphatase: 50-100 U/L
  • Alanine aminotransferase (ALT): 5-30 U/L
  • Amylase: 30-125 U/L
  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST): 5-30 U/L
  • Direct bilirubin: 0-6 µmol/L
  • Gamma glutamyl transferase: 6-50 U/L
  • Lipase: 10-150 U/L
  • Total bilirubin: 2-20 µmol/L
  • Total protein: 60-80 g/L

Cardiac enzymes

  • Creatine kinase: 25-200 U/L
  • Creatine kinase MB (CKMB): 0-4 ng/mL
  • Troponin: 0-0.4 ng/mL

Hormones

  • 17 hydroxyprogesterone (female, follicular): 0.2-1 mg/L
  • Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH): 4.5-20 pmol/L
  • Estradiol: 1.5-5 ng/dL (male), 2-14 ng/dL (female, follicular), 2-16 ng/dL (female, luteal), < 3.5 ng/dL (postmenopausal)
  • Free T3: 0.2-0.5 ng/dL
  • Free T4: 10-20 pmol/L
  • Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): 1-10 IU/L (male), 1-10 IU/L (female, follicular/luteal), 5-25 IU/L (female, ovulation), 30-110 IU/L (postmenopause)
  • Growth hormone (fasting) : 0-5 ng/mL
  • Progesterone: 70-280 (ovulation), ng/dL
  • Prolactin: < 14 ng/mL
  • Testosterone (male): 10-25 nmol/L
  • Thyroxine-binding globulin: 12-30 mg/L
  • Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH): 0.5-5 mIU/L
  • Total T4: 4.9-11.7 mg/dL
  • Total T3: 0.7-1.5 ng/dL
  • Free T3: 0.6-1.6 ng/mL

Vitamins

  • Folate (serum) : 7-36 nmol/L
  • Vitamin A: 30-65 µg/dL
  • Vitamin B12: 130-700 ng/L
  • Vitamin C: 0.4-1.5 mg/dL
  • Vitamin D: 5-75 ng/mL

Tumor markers

  • Alpha fetoprotein: 0-44 ng/mL
  • Beta human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG): < 5 IU/I
  • CA19.9: < 40 U/mL
  • Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA): < 4 ug/L
  • Prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP): 0-3 U/dL
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA): < 4 ug/L

Miscellaneous

  • Alpha 1-antitrypsin: 20-50 µmol/L
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme: 23-57 U/L
  • C-reactive protein: < 5 mg/L
  • D-dimer: < 500 ng/mL
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR): Less than age/2 mm/hour
  • Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH): 50-150 U/L
  • Lead: < 40 µg/dL
  • Rheumatoid factor: < 25 IU/ml

What the results mean

Increased blood chemistry values

Component An increased value may be due to A decreased value may be due to
ALP
  • primary bone cancer or cancer that has spread to the bone (bone metastasis)
  • primary liver cancer or cancer that has spread to the liver (liver metastasis)
  • lung cancer
  • pancreatic cancer
ALT and AST
  • liver disease
  • liver cancer
  • cancer that has spread to the liver (liver metastasis)
albumin
  • inflammation or infection
  • liver disease
  • kidney disease
bilirubin
  • liver disease or blockage (obstruction) within the liver due to tumours
  • blockage of the bile duct (obstruction) by a tumour
  • cancer in the head of the pancreas
BUN
  • kidney disease or blockage (obstruction) of the urinary tract by a tumour
  • liver disease
calcium
  • parathyroid gland tumours that produce parathyroid hormone
  • tumours that produce parathyroid hormone-like substances or cause bone destruction, such as cancer that has spread to the bone (bone metastasis)
    • lymphoma
    • leukemia
    • multiple myeloma (1)
    • some types of head and neck cancer
  • pancreatic disease
  • kidney failure
creatinine
  • kidney disease or blockage (obstruction) of the urinary tract by a tumour
  • cancer can cause the body to use and breakdown more protein
  • liver disease
glucose
  • conditions such as diabetes
  • inflammation of the pancreas
  • liver disease
  • pancreatic tumours
lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)
  • many diseases, including liver disease
  • many cancers, including advanced cancers
  • leukemia
  • lymphoma
phosphorus (phosphate)
  • kidney disease
  • liver disease
  • tumour lysis syndrome (2)
  • primary bone cancer or cancer that has spread to the bone (bone metastasis)
  • liver disease
uric acid
  • leukemia
  • multiple myeloma
  • lymphoma
  • excess cell destruction that may follow chemotherapy and radiation therapy (tumour lysis syndrome)
  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • multiple myeloma

Note: Not all factors or conditions that can increase blood chemistry components are listed above. Only the main cancer-related ones have been included.

What happens if a change or abnormality is found ?

The doctor will decide if more tests, procedures, follow-up care or treatment are needed.

References & Sources

(1) A type of cancer that starts in plasma cells (white blood cells that produce antibodies to help the body fight infection) in the bone marrow.

(2). A group of side effects that include kidney, heart and liver damage caused by treatment that rapidly kills cancer cells, which release toxic substances into the blood when they die

 Liver panel. American Association for Clinical Chemistry. (2010, November 24). Lab Tests Online.

Dollinger M, Ljung BM, Morita ET & Rosenbaum EH. How cancer is diagnosed. Ko, A. H., Dollinger, M., & Rosenbaum, E. (2008). Everyone’s Guide to Cancer Therapy: How Cancer is Diagnosed, Treated and Managed Day to Day. (5th Edition). Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing. 2: pp. 17-30.

Fischbach F. & Dunning MB. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Test. (9th Edition). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Comprehensive metabolic panel. National Cancer Institute & National Library of Medicine. (2010, 8/27). MedlinePlus: Trusted Health Information For You: Medical Encyclopedia. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute & National Library of Medicine.

Medscape.

Basic blood chemistry tests. Nemours Foundation. (2009, February). KidsHealth – For Parents.

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Disclaimer: Nothing in this education site should be construed as medical advise
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