Blood consists of four components – white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets and plasma – that help oxygenate our organs and tissues, act as a defense against infections and form clots to stop bleeding. But these components may also indicate the presence of abnormalities, which sometimes lead to blood cancers. That’s where hematology-oncology comes into play. Here’s a breakdown of this segment of oncologic medicine – and a look at what you can expect at the hematology-oncology clinic at Regional Cancer Care Associates.
Hematology-oncology refers to the combined medical practice of hematology (the study of the blood’s physiology) and oncology (the study of cancer). This type of medicine diagnoses and treats cancerous blood disorders and cancers, and manages symptoms of these diseases and resultant tumors (if present). Hematologists-oncologists treat:
- Hodgkin lymphoma
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Multiple myeloma
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Sickle cell disease
- von Willebrand disease
- Polycythemia vera
- Clotting disorders
When to See a Hematologist-Oncologist
Though no two blood cancers are the same, each variation of the disease offers some telltale warning signs that it might be time to consult with a hematology-oncology specialist. Symptoms of blood cancer can include:
- Fever, chills, coughing or chest pain
- High frequency of infectious illnesses
- Itchy areas of the skin or a rash
- Constant weakness, fatigue or night sweats
- Difficulty catching your breath
- Swollen yet painless lymph nodes in the groin, armpits or neck
- Changes in appetite or recurring nausea
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, a hematologist-oncologist will conduct a variety of tests, such as blood screens, bone marrow exams, diagnostic imaging tests and more, to determine the root cause of your symptoms and whether they are related to cancer.
Treating Blood Cancers
As with any cancer, blood cancer treatment needs to be tailored to each patient. The treatment plan will depend on the specific type of blood cancer, its stage, and other factors pertaining to the patient’s overall health. Stem cell transplants, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are all common treatments for blood cancers.
At a hematology-oncology clinic, the proper diagnosis, treatment and management of blood cancers requires a team of specialists from several fields of medicine – not just hematology-oncology. Surgeons, radiation oncologists, radiologists and pathologists are just a few of the specialists available to all patients at Regional Cancer Care Associates. You may also be under the care of doctors specializing in infectious disease and pain medicine, as well as psychologists who monitor your mental well-being during treatment and recovery.
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with blood cancer or are living with a non-cancerous blood disorder, the team of specialists at our hematology-oncology clinic is here to put you on the path to healing. With more than 30 locations in 29 cities across New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland, you’ll find state-of-the-art technology and the latest advancements in medicine at Regional Cancer Care Associates. For more information, contact us today.