What is Hematology?
Hematology is the study of blood and blood related diseases. Problems caused with the blood can affect many functions of the body and cause a wide range of complications. Hematologists are the doctors who study the blood-related conditions, including several types of cancer. They use a variety of tests and treatments to cure these issues. Many hematologists are also interested in getting training in oncology, which is the branch of medicine dedicated to diagnosing and treating cancer. As you know that Blood plays important roles in human health such as:
- For the transportation of vital substances, such as oxygen and nutrients, into the whole part of the body
- Blood helps to control the body in balancing of water and acidity
- Blood also helps in fighting various diseases.
Problems caused with the blood can affect many parts of the body systems, such as a network of tissues, lymphatic system and organs that clear waste.
Sometimes blood disorders stem from problems with the bone marrow, the place where the body makes most of its blood cells.
Basically, Hematology aims to understand how these problems occur, how they can affect a person’s health and various ways to treat them.
Functions of hematologists?
Hematologists are the medical doctors who are specialized in treating and diagnosing the blood related problems such as the bone marrow.
Tests and procedures
There are several test and procedures performed by doctors such as:
- Complete blood cell count– This test helps in diagnosing anemia, blood cancer and inflammatory diseases. It can also monitor blood loss and infection.
- Platelet count: This test helps to diagnose and monitor bleeding disorders.
- Blood enzyme tests: This test has many types, which a doctor uses to diagnose cardiovascular conditions, including cardiac arrest.
- Bone marrow biopsy: This procedure can diagnose and monitor anemia, thrombocytopenia, which involves a low platelet count, and some types of cancers.
- Blood transfusions: This procedure involves the body receiving healthy blood intravenously.
Specialization of a hematologist
A hematologist can have specialization in following fields:
Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells(RBC) that carries oxygen around the body. Hemoglobinopathy is called abnormal hemoglobin. And these abnormalities can cause sickle cell disease like thalassemia or any other disorders. These can lead to severe pain.
This field of hematology focuses on treating and diagnosing blood cancers, such as myeloma.
Blood cancers start from the cell of the immune system or tissues that make blood cells, such as bone marrow.
Anemia is the condition that is caused due to the low level of hemoglobin or red blood cells in the body.
Anemia prevents enough oxygen-rich blood from circulation. It can cause a person to feel unusually tired and experience muscle weakness.
Coagulopathy is a bleeding disorder and it affects the body’s ability to form blood clots.
Blood disorders like hemophilia is the form of coagulopathy. In this disorder the body is not able to control bleeding.
How is Hematology related to oncology?
It is common for a hematologist to train in the field of oncology, which is related to diagnosing and treating cancer. The combined training allows doctors to treat a wide range of blood-related illnesses, along with cancers.
A person suffering from blood cancer like leukemia or myeloma can consult an oncologist and hematologist separately, or they can see a doctor with training in both fields.
Not everyone who is referred to an oncologist has cancer. Many oncologists are trained in hematology and are able to see people with blood conditions that are not cancerous.
Several disorders and diseases primarily affect the blood and can be treated by a hematologist:
- Anemia: It is a disorder which involves the body producing few healthy red blood cells to carry enough oxygen around the body.
- Sickle cell disease: It is a form of anemia which changes the shape of red blood cells.
- Thalassemia: In this disorder the body does not make enough hemoglobin.
- Thrombocytopenia: This is responsible for a low platelet count, which can result in difficulty forming blood clots.
- Malaria: This infection can destroy red blood cells which can lead to serious issues.