Hematologic malignancies (also known as blood cancers) are cancers of the blood, bone marrow and lymph nodes. The majority of blood cancers have no known cause, and they are only rarely inherited. They range from slowly progressing chronic conditions to aggressive malignancies. Careful diagnosis and individualized treatment are extremely important for the management of these cancers.
Blood cancers are diagnosed using a variety of tests. Blood tests include a complete blood count (CBC) and other laboratory assessments. Many patients require a biopsy of bone marrow or lymph nodes or a bone marrow aspiration. Imaging studies (X-ray, CT, MRI, ultrasound) to evaluate cancer spread are frequently required. Genetic testing to identify the chromosomal abnormalities in cancer cells is often critical to an accurate diagnosis.
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Myeloproliferative neoplasms
- Bone marrow failure disorders, including aplastic anemia
Treatments for blood cancers are highly tailored to individual patients based on their disease, the molecular characteristics of their cancer, their individual health and their personal priorities. Treatment can include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation and stem cell transplant. Most care plans include a combination of treatment types.