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​Blood cancers and disorders

Blood cancers and other blood disorders are often misunderstood. For example, leukemia has been long thought of as a cancer that mostly affects children. And some people assume leukemia and lymphoma can't be cured.

If you have one of these disorders, such misconceptions can make your diagnosis seem all the more frightening. But the truth is, exciting medical advances have made it possible to treat blood diseases more effectively than ever before. In fact, survival rates for some blood cancers once considered fatal are now near 80 percent.

At The Christ Hospital Health Network, we know a cancer diagnosis is overwhelming. No matter how far medicine has come, blood cancer treatment still takes a toll on your physical and emotional health.

Rest assured, our cancer care team offers both empathy and expertise. We work just as hard to support you as we do to cure you.

About blood cancers and disorders

Blood is the complex and essential fluid that fills (and travels through) your body. Chances are, you know that blood is essential for survival—but you may be less familiar with the reasons why.

  • Blood is a "transport system" that carries oxygen to your heart, brain and every other part of your body.

  • It forms clots that prevent you from bleeding too much.

  • It carries special proteins called antibodies that help you fight infections.

  • It regulates your body temperature.

  • It helps your body get rid of waste products. 

Your blood consists of four important components:

  • Red blood cells—bright red cells that help carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. They also bring carbon dioxide back to your lungs, so you can breathe it out.

  • White blood cells—cells that help your body fight infection. There are several kinds of white blood cells, including neutrophils and lymphocytes.

  • Platelets—tiny cells that help your blood clot.

  • Plasma—the liquid component of your blood, made mostly of water. It carries your blood cells and a variety of other substances including waste products, nutrients and hormones.

Red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets are made constantly in your bone marrow (the soft tissue located inside your bones). 

There are many medical problems that can affect your blood. These medical problems can be cancerous or non-cancerous. And they can cause your blood cells or bone marrow to stop working properly. 

The three major types of blood cancer are:

  • Leukemia—cancer that starts in your bone marrow. It produces abnormal white blood cells that can't fight infection. And it prevents your bone marrow from producing healthy red blood cells and platelets. Two types of leukemia usually affect adults. They are acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

  • Lymphoma—cancer that starts in a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes. Your lymphocytes help your body fight infection. Over time, these cancerous cells build up inside your lymph nodes and damage your immune system. There are two types of lymphoma called Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

  • Multiple myeloma—cancer that begins in your plasma cells. It prevents your body from fighting infection, weakens your bones and can damage your kidneys.

There are also a variety of blood disorders that are not cancerous. These include:

  • Anemia—your body cannot produce enough red blood cells, or your red blood cells do not work properly. There are different kinds of anemia, including aplastic anemia and sickle cell anemia.

  • Hemophilia—an inherited condition that prevents blood from clotting properly.

Doctors called hematologists treat blood cancers and other blood disorders. 

Why choose The Christ Hospital Health Network

If you have a blood cancer or disorder, you want care from experts you can rely on. Our cancer specialists are on the leading edge of blood disorder treatment. We also understand that you need patience and guidance throughout your journey. 

At The Christ Hospital Health Network, you can count on us to provide an exceptional experience that meets all your needs. 

We also offer stand-out support services including nutrition consultationsintegrative medicinefinancial counseling and referrals to support groups.

Learn how blood cancers and other blood disorders are diagnosed and treated at The Christ Hospital Health Network.