What Is a Hematologist-Oncologist?

Hematologist-Oncologists specialize in cancer and blood disorders.

Researchers comparing slides in hematology lab
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A hematologist-oncologist is a doctor with special training diagnosing and treating blood diseases and blood cancers such as iron-deficiency anemia, hemophilia, sickle-cell disease, leukemia, and lymphoma.

Hematologist-oncologists are trained in both hematology, the study of blood, and oncology, the study of cancer. Oncologists usually have some expertise and proficiency in the management of solid tumors like breast cancer.

Some hematologist-oncologists become stem cell transplantation experts.

When your primary care doctor diagnoses you with a hematological disease or specific cancer, you will be given a referral for a doctor that specializes in the hematology condition or specific cancer that needs to be treated.

Why See a Hematologist-Oncologist?

Not everyone with a blood problem needs a hematologist and not everyone with a blood disorder will need an oncologist. Hematology-oncology is just a combined specialty which means that the doctor is trained in both fields.There are a variety of reasons why your doctor may have referred you to a hematologist-oncologist.

Perhaps you have been feeling tired and a routine blood test has revealed a low number of red blood cells. You may be having unexplained bleeding, clotting problems or infections. Perhaps you have had a blood clot in your leg or lung and may need to have a hematologist evaluate why a clot developed, another situation may be that tests ordered by your doctor have revealed a tumor on your body.

 

Once you have set up an appointment with a hematologist-oncologist, be sure to provide them with an accurate and complete version of your family and medical history since as many as 15 percent of cancers are caused by genes passed from a parent to a child.

What to Expect From Your Consultation

Visiting with a hematologist-oncologist is very much like a visit with your primary care doctor.

Your specialist will ask about your complete medical history and perform a physical exam. Depending on why you were referred, your specialist may order more blood tests or perform a bone marrow biopsy. Your hematologist will communicate with both you and your primary care physician on how to move forward with your plan of care.

After the initial consultation, the direction of your plan of care depends on your condition.  Some common procedures performed by a hematologist-oncologist include:

  • Biotherapy. Biologic therapy treatment is done to encourage your immune system to fight infections or diseases and to heal healthy tissue after treatment.
  • Chemotherapy. This type of therapy treatment uses drugs to kill bacteria, viruses, fungi, and cancer cells. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment (unlike radiation therapy and surgery, which are localized treatments) where the drugs travel throughout the whole body. This means cancer cells that may have spread to other areas can be reached.
  • Blood Transfusions. If you lose too much blood through an injury or major surgery, or by having an illness that destroys blood cells (such as hemolytic anemia or thrombocytopenia) then you will require a blood transfusion to replace the lost blood.
  • Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplantation. This procedure involves replacing damaged bone marrow with healthy bone marrow from another person donor (related or non-related). It may need to be done with cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma
  • Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation. This type of treatment uses stem cells taken from your blood prior to chemotherapy or radiation treatment and replaced after treatment.

Source:

Baylor Scott & White Health.Hematology. Medical Oncology.

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