Hematology-Oncology, also known as ‘Hem-Onc’ is a branch of medicine that specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, management of symptoms, and prevention of cancerous blood-related disorders and solid cancers, as well as any resultant tumors. Hematology is the study of blood while Oncology is the study of cancers.
The blood plays several vital roles which include oxygenating the body’s tissues and organs, transporting nutrients throughout the body, formation of clots to stop bleeding, and acting as the first defense against infections. However, sometimes there may be an accumulation of defects which may lead to abnormalities of the blood, which may further increase the risk of cancer.
Some of the blood cancers and conditions treated in Hematology clinic include:
- Leukemia: This is a group of blood-related cancers that begin in the bone-marrow. It is commonly known as the cancer of the white blood cells.
- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: Also known as Hodgkin’s disease, this is a type of blood cancer that starts in the lymphatic system, in the upper body.
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: This is similar to the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma whereby the cancers originate from the lymphatic system, but here, the cancers grow anywhere in the body. They are not restricted only to the upper part of the body.
- Sickle Cell Anemia: Known also as sickle cell disease (SCD), this is a genetic blood disorder in which the blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells. The available red cells are also shaped like crescent moons or sickles.
- Hemophilia: As one of the rare blood disorders, this condition occurs when the blood is unable to clot properly due to low levels of clotting factors (proteins).
- Thalassemia: This is a genetic blood disorder that occurs as a result of the blood not having enough hemoglobin.
- Iron Deficiency Anemia: In this condition, the blood usually doesn’t have enough healthy blood cells, or iron (the mineral) which is used to make hemoglobin.
- Clotting Disorders: This is a condition that occurs when the blood is unable to clot. This happens as a result of inability to create enough proteins which stop bleeding.
- Multiple Myeloma: This type of cancer forms in the plasma cells (a type of white blood cells), which help fight off infections.
- Polycythemia Vera: This is a blood cancer type that causes the bone marrow to create excess red blood cells.
- Von Willebrand Disease (VWD): This is a common genetic disorder whereby the blood is unable to clot properly.
Oncology conditions treated in the Hematology-Oncology clinic include solid tumors which do not liquid or are made of cysts. The solid tumors come in two forms:
- Benign: Non-cancerous tumors
- Malignant: Cancerous tumors
Types of Solid Tumors
Lymphomas: These are specific cancers that form in the lymphocytes, which are the infection-fighting cells found in the immune system. These types of cancers occur in areas like the bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen and thymus.
Carcinomas: This is the most common type of cancer, and it starts developing on the tissue that line the inside and/or the outside organs of the body. Types of carcinomas include squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, ductal carcinoma in situ, renal cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and invasive ductal carcinoma.
Sarcomas: This is a broad group of cancers that originate from the soft connective tissues (fat, blood vessels, cartilage, nerves, tendons and muscles), and bones. Sarcomas come in more than 70 different types.
Symptoms of Hematology-Oncology Conditions
Some of the common symptoms in people suffering from Hematology-oncology conditions include:
- Pale skin
- Swelling or mass
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
- Severe fatigue
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Cold hands and feet
- Irregular heartbeat
- Fever and chills
- Chest pain
- Night sweats
- Changes in your appetite
- Consistent infectious illnesses
- Feelings of ill health
Diagnosing Hematology-Oncology Conditions
For anyone experiencing the said conditions, it is highly recommended that you visit a Hematologist-Oncologist for a diagnosis. To get a definitive diagnosis, the expert will order several tests, which include:
- Bone marrow biopsy
- Blood cell count
- CT Scanning
- Blood screening
- Blood enzyme tests
- PET Scanning
- MRI and Ultrasound
Treatment of Hematology-Oncology Conditions
Treatment of Hematology-Oncology conditions is dependent on the condition, whereby the expert tailor-makes the treatment to fit the said condition. The stage and the health condition of the patient also plays a big role when it comes to treating said conditions.
Some of the treatment options for Hematology-Oncology conditions include:
- Blood transfusion
- Targeted therapy
At King’s College Hospital Dubai, we focus on offering an exemplary service. From initial consultation through to final diagnosis, treatment and beyond. Our multidisciplinary team of expert doctors and nurses, and technologists led by Dr Hassan Ghazal – an American triple board-certified Consultant Medical Oncologist and a Consultant Clinical Hematologist with more than 3 decades of clinical experience, are here to offer tailored management and treatment of your condition, and to answer any questions that you may have throughout your time with us. Whatever you need us for, we’re only a phone-call away.