Cancer Care

Blood Disorders

People may be affected by many different types of blood conditions and blood cancers. Blood disorders can be inherited, but they can also be caused by disease, the side effects of medication, or the lack of nutrients in your diet.

What is a blood disorder?

Your blood is living tissue made up of liquid and solids. The liquid part, called plasma, is made of water, salts and protein. Over half of your blood is plasma. The solid parts of your blood contains: red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

There are different types of blood disorders. They include:

  • Anemia – when your blood, because of a low count of red blood cells, does not carry enough oxygen to the rest of your body;
  • Platelet disorders – when clotting and bleeding problems affect how your blood clots;
  • Malignant or cancerous disorders of the blood (white cells), such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.

A person may have no symptoms with a blood disorder. The blood disorder may be found when blood work is done at a lab for other reasons.

Red Blood Cell Disorders

When a person does experience symptoms, the signs can include:

  • Feeling overly tired
  • Being out of breast
  • Hard time focusing
  • Weakness
  • Racing heart

White Blood Cell Disorders

The symptoms of a white blood cell disorder can include:

  • Infections
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Weight loss (when you're not on a diet)
  • Feeling rundown

Platelet Disorders

  • Sores that don't heal
  • Blood that doesn't clot after an injury
  • Bruises
  • Nosebleeds
  • Bleeding gums


Evaluating Blood Disorders

Your provider may order blood tests  that include a CBC (complete blood count). A bone marrow biopsy is another test that looks for abnormal cells inside your bones.

Treatment Depends on the Blood Disorder Type

Doctors who specialize in blood disorders are called hematologists and oncologists. They will work with you to provide the best form of treatment. Treatment can include the following:

  • Medication that can include antibiotics and vitamins
  • Blood transfusion
  • Bone marrow transplant



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