What is Hematology?
Hematology is the study of blood and blood-borne diseases. Hematology includes the treatment of blood malignancies and disorders.
These disorders consist of blood clots, hemophilia, lymphoma, leukemia, sickle-cell anemia and myeloma.
Hematology is a branch of internal medicine and deals with the pathology, physiology, diagnosis, etiology, treatment, prevention and prognosis of blood-related ailments.
Hematologists are trained in the bone marrow and lymphatic systems and can also diagnose platelet and blood irregularities.
As a hematologist, you will be responsible for treating organs in the body that are fed by blood cells, which include the spleen, lymphoid tissue, thymus and lymph nodes.
Areas of Study Under Hematology
There are four main areas of focus under hematology, namely hematologic malignancies, hemoglobinopathy, coagulopathy and anemia.
Hemoglobinopathy studies abnormalities in the globin chains of the hemoglobin molecules. Apart from sickle-cell anemia, thalassemia is also studied under hemoglobinopathy.
Hematologic malignancies relate to diagnosing and treating cancers of the lymph nodes, blood and bone marrow.
Myeloma is a form of hematologic malignancy, similar to lymphoma and leukemia.
Besides these, hematology also relates to studying deep-vein thrombosis, arterial thromboembolism and neutropenia.
Hematologists also often work in oncology. Hematologists need to team up with oncologists to care for children and adults suffering from blood or bone marrow cancer, including lymphoma and leukemia.
Hematology also includes blood tests, such as CBC (complete blood count). This test is usually part of a routine health exam.
It is required to diagnose the presence of blood clotting issues, anemia, blood cancers and disorders and infections affecting the immune system.
What is a Hematologist?
Hematologists are professional, certified internal medicine doctors who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of blood, bone marrow and lymphatic system disorders.
These specialists work in blood banks, clinics or hospitals. Some may even have their own pathology labs, and these are called hematopathologists.
These professionals are trained in pathology and can examine blood and body tissues at a microscopic level.
To become a hematologist, you will need to complete at least 9 years of medical education. This will include 3 years of on-the-job residency training after you finish medical school.
You will also need to have at least 4 years of sub-specialty training. In some cases, hematologists are generalists while others concentrate on specific conditions or organs.
What Does a Hematologist Do?
A hematologist is usually referred by a primary care physician. Some of the more common reasons for being referred to a hematologist include:
- Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis)
- Anemia (low red blood cell count)
- Sepsis (extreme reaction to infection)
- Lymphoma, leukemia or multiple myeloma (cancer of white blood cells, lymph nodes or bone marrow)
- Hemophilia (genetic blood clotting disorder)
- Sickle cell disease (faulty red blood cells)
As a hematologist, you will also need to perform different tests and procedures. This usually includes diagnosing through blood testing and even treatment through blood transfusions.
Hematologists commonly perform a complete blood count (CBC) test. This test is crucial to detect and diagnose various types of diseases.
This test includes testing the level of platelets and all three types of blood cells. Blood transfusion involves replacing blood lost in surgery, illness or accident.
More advanced hematologists are also involved in bone marrow transplants where the damaged stem cells in the marrow of your bones are replaced with healthy blood cells from other parts of your body.
Hematology is the study of blood-borne diseases and disorders. There are numerous health problems that affect the blood directly, from cancers to anemia.
Hematologists provide a wide variety of clinical tests and medical treatments.
There is a huge scope for a career in hematology, thanks to the integration of internal medicine in the majority of other medical fields.