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Why Would Someone Be Referred to a Hematologist?

A primary care physician plays a vital role in the overall health of an individual. In most cases, primary care physicians are the first medical professionals that patients talk to about non-life-threatening medical conditions or concerns. Primary care physicians sometimes are referred to as general practitioners because their responsibilities involve all types of health concerns.

During annual visits or other appointments, primary care physicians may order blood work to assess a patient’s health. Should those tests identify abnormal results, primary care physicians may refer patients to see a specialist called a hematologist.

Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA) provides comprehensive care for both cancers and non-cancerous blood disorders to patients throughout New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C. area. Here, we discuss some of the many reasons a patient might be referred to a hematologist.

Healthcare professional collecting blood sample from patient

What Is a Hematologist?

Hematology is the medical specialty focused on blood, blood-forming organs such as bone marrow, and blood-related disorders and diseases. Hematologists are highly trained physicians whose area of expertise is the blood and blood components. A hematologist is responsible for diagnosing, managing, monitoring, and treating a wide range of diseases that affect the blood, including both benign (non-cancerous) conditions, and cancers of the blood and blood-forming tissues, such as leukemias and lymphomas. Hematologists generally complete a residency in internal medicine before going on to advanced training, called a fellowship, in hematology. Many, but not all, hematologists, complete fellowship programs that encompass training in medical oncology as well as hematology.

Reasons for Being Referred to a Hematologist

A primary care physician may refer a patient to a hematologist for any one of many reasons. Typically, however, the primary care provider wants to draw on the specialist’s expertise to provide the patient with the most accurate diagnosis and, if necessary, best treatment plan. For example, if a primary care physician orders blood work and the results show an abnormally high or low level of red blood cells, or indications of a problem with blood clotting (known medically of “coagulation”), the physician may want the patient to be evaluated by a hematologist. If a hematologist does diagnose a blood disorder, that specialist will have the knowledge necessary to treat it. In many cases, however, the hematologist is able to rule out a blood disorder or to identify a condition that can be managed by the primary care provider.

What to Expect During an Appointment With a Hematologist

Being referred to a blood specialist does not necessarily mean that a patient has a serious illness. Instead, it means there were concerning irregularities in the patient’s blood work that need to be investigated. During an appointment with a hematologist, the specialist typically will:

  • ask the patient what symptoms he or she has been experiencing
  • ask if the patient has been experiencing any changes in his or her health
  • review the results of the blood tests and inform the patient of the findings,
  • explain what the blood work results might indicate, and any related concerns, and
  • recommend and discuss further testing, if necessary

If the hematologist makes a diagnosis, he or she will explain it to the patient and discuss treatment options.

Does Being Referred to a Hematologist Mean You Have Cancer?

No. While hematologists do specialize in treating leukemia, lymphoma, and other malignant blood disorders, their area of expertise encompasses all kinds of blood disorders, both cancerous and noncancerous. Patients should ask their primary care provider why they are being referred to a hematologist. While a full evaluation will be required to provide a definitive diagnosis, the primary care provider may be able to allay a patient’s concerns by explaining that the reason for referral is not suspicion of a cancerous condition.

Common cancerous blood disorders that a hematologist is qualified to diagnose and treat include:

Noncancerous hematologic conditions that a hematologist is qualified to diagnose and treat include the following:

Hematology Care at Regional Cancer Care Associates

Primary care physicians who notice abnormalities in their patients’ blood work may refer those patients to the hematology care team at Regional Cancer Care Associates. Known for their extensive knowledge and experience, the fellowship-trained hematologists of RCCA can accurately diagnose and effectively treat both cancerous and noncancerous hematologic conditions. Every patient who walks through the doors at Regional Cancer Care Associates is greeted with kindness and respect. After meeting with patients and determining his or her condition, specialists create an appropriate treatment plan, using the most recent discoveries in hematologic care.

Patients in New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C., area wishing to learn more about these advanced services and the hematology conditions treated can contact Regional Cancer Care Associates or schedule an appointment at one of our more than 20 locations today.

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For more information or to schedule an appointment,
call 844-346-7222. You can also schedule an appointment by calling the RCCA location nearest you.


Regional Cancer Care Associates is one of fewer than 200 medical practices in the country selected to participate in the Oncology Care Model (OCM); a recent Medicare initiative aimed at improving care coordination and access to and quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries undergoing chemotherapy treatment.