Woman reviewing her test results on phone and paper
Diagnosis and Treatment

Cancer Testing Made Simple: Decoding the Basic and Complete Metabolic Panels (BMP/CMP)

As you go through cancer diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care, it's common to feel overwhelmed and confused about the medical jargon and tests your doctor orders. However, understanding cancer-related blood tests can help you stay on top of your health and your treatment. Two blood panel tests that your doctor may order are a Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP) and a Complete Metabolic Panel (CMP).

What's the Difference Between the BMP and CMP?

Think of the BMP and CMP as snapshots of your body’s inner workings — chemical balance, kidney function, metabolism, and more. A BMP tests for eight different substances in your blood with a primary focus on metabolism, electrolytes, and chemical balance. The CMP tests for those same eight substances plus six additional ones, including liver enzymes and total protein. Your doctor will decide which panel to order based on what values they need to monitor. 

What Do the Results Signify?

Don't worry — you don't need a medical degree to understand the results. The values in these panels have a “normal” range, which your doctor will compare your results to. The test results will provide your doctor with valuable information regarding how your cancer and treatment are impacting your overall health. 

The Iris Care Team has broken down each component of a CMP and BMP to help you better understand your care. To go deeper, explore "More Resources".

This article meets Iris standards for medical accuracy. It has been fact-checked by the Iris Clinical Editorial Board, our team of oncology experts who ensure that the content is evidence based and up to date. The Iris Clinical Editorial Board includes board-certified oncologists and pharmacists, psychologists, advanced practice providers, licensed clinical social workers, oncology-certified nurses, and dietitians.