In many places, the medical specialties of haematology and oncology come under the same banner of “Cancer Care”
However, in haematology we see a lot of non-malignant (i.e. non-cancer) conditions as well. Turning up to a clinic, or receiving a letter or phone call with “cancer” in the name can be very stressful for patients and their families. Especially, if they believe they are coming for a “blood” problem. Additionally, blood cancers don’t have “cancer” in their name – they are called things like leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma (as opposed to bowel cancer, lung cancer as examples), so patients may not be aware of a potential cancer diagnosis.
When I see a patient for the first time, I generally say something along the lines of “in haematology we specialise in blood and bone marrow problems. That includes things like anaemia, bleeding and clotting. It also includes blood cancers such as leukaemia and lymphoma.”
Reasons you may be referred to a haematologist include:- abnormal blood counts (red cells/white cells/platelets)- enlarged lymph nodes- enlarged spleen- finding of an abnormal protein in blood (called a paraprotein)- enlarged lymph nodes- symptoms such as unexplained fevers, unexplained weight loss, waking at night drenched in sweat- a confirmed diagnosis of lymphoma/myeloma/leukaemia- after a blood clot- tendency to bleed
Note: not all blood tests relate to blood counts and bone marrow. Many are for other organs such as liver, kidney and thyroid.