We present a comparative study of scattering from healthy red blood cells (RBCs) and diseased RBCs with deformed shapes. Scattering problems involving three-dimensional RBCs are formulated accurately with the electric and magnetic current combined-field integral equation and solved efficiently by the multilevel fast multipole algorithm. We compare scattering cross section values obtained for different RBC shapes and different orientations. In this way, we determine strict guidelines to distinguish deformed RBCs from healthy RBCs and to diagnose various diseases using scattering cross section values. The results may be useful for designing new and improved flow cytometry procedures.