A hematologist is a licensed doctor who specializes in the treatment of blood disorders and disorders of the lymphatic system. Your primary care doctor may recommend visiting a hematologist if they suspect any abnormalities in your blood, or you can visit a hematologist directly if you have symptoms that may indicate a blood disorder. This…
Reasons to Visit a Hematologist
A hematologist is a medical professional who focuses on the research, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of blood and lymphatic system diseases, including many cancer types. When a primary care physician refers their patients to a hematologist, it could be because of the potential risk for a disorder related to the red or white blood cells, blood vessels, platelets, lymph nodes, bone marrow, or spleen.
Why visit a hematologist?
The following are blood-related disorders that could prompt a visit to a hematologist:
Leukemia is a blood or bone marrow cancer that occurs when white blood cells multiply abnormally. The condition, which affects both adults and children, can be acute (spreading fast) or chronic (slow progress). The American Society of Hematology classifies leukemia as lymphocytic or myelogenous, based on whether the disease manifests as aberrant cell proliferation or development in the bone marrow. Leukemia is typically divided into four types: acute myelogenous (AML), acute lymphocytic (ALL), chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).
Hematologists use a complete blood count (CBC) to diagnose leukemia because it shows the presence of leukemia cells. Another sign of leukemia is unusually high or low numbers of white blood cells or red blood cells.
A hematologist treats lymphoma, a type of cancer. Lymphocytes are part of the body's immune system and are responsible for fighting off infection. This condition affects the lymphatic system. This system includes lymph nodes in the neck, groin, chest, armpit, and belly. The proliferation of lymphocytes leads to the development of lymphoma cells, which then invade and disseminate throughout the lymphatic system. Lymphomas are classified as either Hodgkin's lymphoma or non-Hodgkin lymphomas.
According to the American Cancer Society, most non-Hodgkin lymphomas are B-cell lymphomas, and either develop swiftly or slowly. B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas are many. The others are T-cell lymphomas, named after a separate malignant white blood cell, or lymphocyte.
Diagnosing lymphoma requires blood tests, bone marrow biopsies, and imaging testing (such as a CT or PET scan). Imaging scans are particularly useful in determining if cancer has progressed to other organs, such as the lungs or spleen.
Anemia is a deficiency of healthy red blood cells, which prevents the body from getting enough oxygen. A common symptom of anemia is a feeling of excessive fatigue or exhaustion. Hematologists will use the CBC to test the amounts of hemoglobin (an oxygen-carrying protein) and hematocrit (the percentage of red blood cells in the blood) to diagnose anemia.
Blood cell counts are also taken into account and the number of platelets in your blood. If the CBC test suggests anemia, the hematologist will recommend more tests to determine the severity and best treatment plan. These tests include reticulocyte count, peripheral smear, and serum iron.
Sickle cell disease
Sickle cell disease is a hereditary condition. In this condition, red blood cells create an abnormal quantity of hemoglobin, which is called hemoglobin S. (HbS). In contrast to healthy red blood cells, sickle cells are crescent-shaped instead of a doughnut shape. Also, sickle cells clump together and get trapped in blood vessels, resulting in excruciating pain. Doctors use a blood test to search for aberrant hemoglobin responsible for sickle cell anemia to diagnose the disorder.
Deep vein thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is the term for the formation of a blood clot or thrombus in the body's deep veins, typically in the legs. Patients may experience leg discomfort and swelling, while others may suffer no symptoms. The development of DVT may be attributed to some medical disorders or by prolonged sedentary periods, such as after an accident or surgery. DVT may be life-threatening or deadly if the blood clots dislodge, move through the bloodstream, and end up in the lungs. This blockage is what causes pulmonary embolism.
As a result, the role of a hematologist in the diagnosis of DVT is critical. It is common to perform a D-dimer blood test to identify these clots. People with severe DVT have elevated D-dimer levels, a protein formed by blood clots.
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that develops when the body's immune system attacks an infection, causing tissue damage and impairing normal function. Sepsis is most common in those with a particularly high risk of infection. Sepsis detection requires tests like CBC, blood culture, platelet count, D-dimer, prothrombin time, and partial thromboplastin time (PT and PTT).
A hematologist plays an important role in the medical system since they are well-versed in treating all types of blood disorders, including life-threatening ones.
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