Blood Cancers We Treat
Hematologic malignancies, also known as blood cancers or hematologic cancers, affect the production and function of the blood cells. Most hematologic cancers start in the bone marrow where the different types of blood cells are produced. Hematologic cancers occur when abnormal blood cells start growing out of control, interrupting the function and proportion of the normal blood cells, which fight off infection, produce new red blood cells, and platelets.
- Leukemia – leukemia is a type of cancer found in your blood and bone marrow and is caused by the rapid production of abnormal white blood cells. The high number of abnormal white blood cells are not able to fight infection and they impair the ability of the bone marrow to produce normal red blood cells and platelets. Leukemia is classified as acute or chronic; acute leukemia tends to progress more rapidly, while chronic leukemia tends to gradually worsen.
- Lymphoma – lymphoma is a type of hematologic cancer that affects the lymphocytes, which are infection-fighting cells located in the body’s lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is formed by organs and glands located throughout the body. It removes excess fluid from your body and produces immune cells. Abnormal lymphocytes can become lymphoma cells, which multiply and collect in your lymph nodes and other lymphatic tissues. Over time, these cancerous cells impair your immune system. Subtypes of lymphoma are Hodgkin lymphoma (formerly called Hodgkin disease) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
- Myeloma – myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells. Plasma cells are white blood cells that produce antibodies in your body, and protect you against diseases and infections. Myeloma cells are produced in the bone marrow and prevent the normal production of functional antibodies, leaving your body's immune system weakened and susceptible to infection.
- Myeloproliferative Disorders – myeloproliferative neoplasms, also known as myeloproliferative disorders, are types of blood cancer that begin with an abnormal change in a stem cell in the bone marrow. The change leads to an overproduction of any combination of white cells, red cells and platelets. These conditions include: Myelofibrosis, Polycythemia Vera, and Thrombocythemia.
- Plasma Cell Disorders – plasma cell neoplasms are a type of blood cancer that effect certain immune system cells and disease-fighting proteins. These conditions include: Amyloidosis, Cryoglobulinemia, Heavy Chain disease, Macroglobulinemia, POEMS Syndrome.
Diagnosing Blood Cancer
Our Hematologic Oncology team utilizes its expertise and advanced technologies to ensure an accurate diagnosis. We use a variety of sophisticated diagnostic tests to evaluate and stage hematologic cancers.
- Biopsy – A biopsy is a procedure that removes a small portion of tissue from part of the body to be examined under a microscope to determine the presence and/or extent of a disease. Typical biopsies may include lymph nodes and bone marrow.
- Blood tests – Blood tests may be used to evaluate a variety of factors, including the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Blood tests can provide important clues about what's going on inside the body and how parts of the body are functioning.
- Diagnostic imaging tests – Diagnostic imaging tests such as a CT scan, PET scan, MRI scan, or x-ray may be used to look for cancer in the lymph nodes and other areas of the body. Imaging tests are an effective way to get a closer look at certain organs and tissues in the body.
Treatments for Blood Cancer
The Acute Leukemia and Malignant Hematology Program offers the most advanced treatment methods available to treat hematologic cancers. If you have been diagnosed with a malignant blood disorder, your treatment will depend on a few factors like the type of hematologic cancer you have been diagnosed with, your age, how fast the cancer is progressing, and whether the cancer has spread to other parts of your body.
Common treatments include:
- Chemotherapy – the use of anti-cancer medicines to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy – uses high energy x-rays to kill cancer cells or stop cancer cells from growing.
- Immunotherapy – uses the body’s immune system to help fight cancer by either boosting the immune system or blocking chemical reactions unique to the cancer being treated.