(Blood and Bone Marrow Cancers)
Hematology is the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases of the blood and bone marrow as well as of the immunologic, blood clotting and vascular systems. Medical concerns addressed by hematologists can range from blood cancers and neoplastic conditions to benign blood disorders.
ProHealth Care provides specialized care for people with blood cancers and neoplastic conditions, including:
- Acute and chronic leukemia, which is a cancer of the blood-forming tissues.
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which is cancer of the lymphatic system.
- Hodgkin disease, which is a type of lymphoma, or cancer of the lymph systems.
- Multiple myeloma, which is a type of bone marrow cancer formed by malignant plasma cells.
- Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, which is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
- Amyloidosis, which is a condition in which an abnormal protein (amyloid) builds up in the tissues and organs.
- Myeloproliferative neoplasms (polycythemia vera, essential thrombocytosis, myelofibrosis), which involve an overproduction of blood cells in the bone marrow.
- Myelodysplastic syndromes, which are disorders in which the bone marrow does not produce enough healthy blood cells. They sometimes are referred to as MDS, or bone marrow failure disorder.
- Aplastic anemia, which is a disease in which the blood marrow is damaged, resulting in a deficiency of all three blood-cell types.
We also treat patients with benign (non-malignant) blood disorders, including:
- Immune thrombocytopenic purpura or ITP, which is a bleeding disorder in which immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own platelets.
- Thrombocytopenia, which is a condition in which a patient has a low level of platelets, also known as thrombocytes.
- Anemia, which is the most common disorder of the blood in which a lack of red blood cells leads to reduced oxygen flow to the body’s organs.
- Leukocytosis, which is a condition in which the body has an elevated number of white blood cells in the blood.
- Leukopenia and neutropenia, which are terms that relate to a reduced number of white blood cells.
- Hypercoagulable state and thrombotic (clotting) disorders are related to a higher risk of blood clots.
- Hemophilia and other bleeding disorders, which often involve lack of blood clotting and excessive bleeding.
- Other hereditary or acquired bone marrow disorders that affect red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
ProHealth physicians also work jointly with maternal fetal medicine specialists in a multidisciplinary clinic that focuses on coagulation disorders during pregnancy.
All of the above cancers and benign conditions are diagnosed using the following methods, either alone or in combination:
Bone marrow biopsy: This procedure collects a sample of marrow from a bone. It can offer detailed information about the patient’s marrow and blood.
Advanced diagnostic studies: These employ molecular biology and immunofluorescence.
Hematopathologists: Experts trained in this sub-specialty ensure accurate and definitive diagnosis.
Radiology: Both diagnostic and interventional radiology.
Genetic risk testing and counseling. Because some diseases have a hereditary link, genetic testing can help provide early detection and/or help determine risks associated with a disease.
Multidisciplinary care: Through conferences and consultations with UW Health hematologists, a more accurate diagnosis may be achieved.
The range of blood-related cancers and benign conditions listed above are treated using the following methods, either alone or in combination:
Chemotherapy: This method involves a drug or combination of drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be administered in a variety of ways, including intrathecal chemotherapy, which delivers chemotherapy drugs directly into the cerebrospinal fluid.
Targeted drug therapy: This advanced form of chemotherapy uses drugs to target specific molecules in order to block the spread of cancer. It sometimes is called personal or precision drug therapy.
Immune therapy: This treatment uses part of a person’s own immune system to attack cancer cells.
Blood transfusion: With this method healthy blood from volunteer donors is used to replace a patient’s red cells, platelets and other blood components.
Growth factor drugs: These drugs are used to stimulate blood cell production.
Immunosuppressive drugs: These drugs help treat certain conditions by weakening the body’s own immune system.
Radiation therapy: Conventional and intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) make use of a computer to aim radiation at the problem area from outside the body, killing cancer cells over time. Radiation is administered based on the specific situation, and the intensity of the beams can be adjusted as needed, minimizing damage to surrounding tissue. Generally, five treatments are required per week for a period of several weeks. The treatments cause no pain and last only a few minutes each
Clinical trials: Conducted around the country, they provide access to new, innovative treatments.
Therapeutic apheresis: Done on site and provided by the BloodCenter of Wisconsin, this treatment removes whole blood from the patient’s body, separates into various components, removes the components that contribute to the disease and then returns the remaining blood to the patient.
Blood or bone marrow transplant: If a transplant is needed, we will work with you to determine the best options for care.