What is Malignant Hematology?
A Medical Oncology & Hematology Doctor is a specialist who help in diagnosis and treatment of malignant and benign tumors or blood cancer by using chemotherapy, biological therapy, targeted therapy and stem cell transplant.
Blood cells: Three main types of blood cells.
- Red blood cells (also called erythrocytes). Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body.
- White blood cells (leukocytes). White blood cells help fight germs.
- Platelets (thrombocytes). Platelets help control bleeding.
Most blood cells are formed in bone marrow. Bone marrow is the absorptive tissue in the center of most bones. Within bone marrow are blood stem cells from which all blood cells are formed.
Stem cells make new cells that are a step closer to being a mature blood cell. These early cells are called progenitor cells. Distinct stem cells, progenitor cells are set to become a certain type of blood cell.
The terms “Malignant” means that the tumor is made of cancerous cells, and it can invade nearby tissues or organs and can move into the blood circulation or lymph nodes, where they can spread to other tissues or organs within the body – this spreading is known as “Metastasis”.
The “benign tumors” are not cancerous, they don’t invade nearby tissues or spread to other tissues of the body.
Malignant Hematology or Blood Cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal blood cells and interferes with normal functions of the cells. Broadly divided into three main categories: Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma.
Leukemia is a cancer of the blood-forming tissue, along with the bone marrow and the lymphatic system. Many types of leukemia occur and usually involves the white blood cells. The white blood cells are main infection fighters, but in people with leukemia, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells.
At AVAM Cancer & Blood Specialists, our Blood specialist may find Chronic Leukemia in a routine blood workup, before symptoms arise. If signs or symptoms suggest leukemia, Hematology specialist may offer the following workup: Physical examination, Blood test, Bone Marrow biopsy.
Lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system, that begins in infection-fighting cells of immune system and that is also called a part of the body’s germ-fighting network. The lymphatic system includes the lymph nodes (lymph glands), spleen, thymus gland and bone marrow. It can affect all those areas as well as other organs throughout the body. Lymphoma most often spreads through the lymph vessels from lymph node to lymph node and aggregate in lymph nodes and other tissues.
There are different types of lymphomas that can grow and spread and are treated differently. The common lymphomas are Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, AIDS-related lymphoma, and primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma.
Myeloma is a cancer that appears in plasma cells. Normal plasma cells generate antibodies that fight disease and infection. Despite this, when abnormal myeloma cells develop, they interfere with the antibody production and lead to lessened immunity. An estimated 31,000 new cases of multiple myeloma are diagnosed in the U.S annually.
Myeloma is cancer of the plasma cells. Plasma cells produce disease- and infection-fighting antibodies in the body. They prevent the normal production of antibodies, leaving the body’s immune system weakened and susceptible to infection.
How it is different from Benign Hematology Disorders?
Most malignant tumors grow quickly and most benign ones do not, there are examples of both slow-growing cancerous tumors and non-cancerous ones that grow rapidly. Two types of tumors are clear and consistent.
Benign hematology cells tend not to spread, grow slowly, do not invade nearby tissue, do not metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body, tend to have clear boundaries. Benign hematology may not require treatment if not health-threatening.
Malignant hematology cells that can spread, usually grow fairly quickly, generally invade basal membrane that surrounds nearby healthy tissue, it can spread via bloodstream or lymphatic system, or into nearby tissue.
Symptoms of Malignant Hematology Diseases?
- Fever or chills
- Persistent fatigue, weakness, headache
- Nausea, loss of appetite
- Frequent or severe infections
- Unexplained weight loss
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin, enlarged liver or spleen
- Easy bleeding or bruising
- Itchy skin or skin rash, tiny red spots in your skin (petechiae)
- Excessive sweating, especially at night
- Shortness of breath
- Recurrent nosebleeds
- Abdominal discomfort
How Malignant Hematology Diseases are diagnosed?
Malignant Hematology workup includes:
- Complete blood work, by examine their signs of blood-related problem, bone marrow aspirations and biopsies and cytogenetic testing/immunophenotyping
- Screening, staging and pathology services
- Ancillary Testing including specialized blood and pathology tests
- Imaging tests including CT scans, MRI and PET-Ct scans
- Genomic testing
What are the treatment options of Malignant Hematology?
Analysis/treatment for blood cancer depends on the type of cancer, your age, how fast the cancer is progressing, factor of cancer cell growth, where the cancer cell has spread and other factors. Some common blood cancer treatments include:
Stem cell transplantation: Stem cells can be collected from the bone marrow, circulating blood and umbilical cord blood.
Chemotherapy: They uses an anticancer drug to interfere with and stop the growth of cancer cells in the body. Chemotherapy for blood cancer consistently involves offering several drugs together in a set regimen.
Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy can be used to damage cancer cells or to relieve pain or discomfort.
Supportive care with blood transfusions and growth factors to improve cell counts, medications to lower Iron levels in blood and other symptoms are integral part of care.