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What is Hematology?

By Jane Harmon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Hematology is that medical specialty which concerns itself with the blood, and the generation of blood in the bone marrow. Hematology studies the red and white blood cells, their relative proportions and general cell health, and the diseases that are caused by imbalances between them, notably leukemia and anemia. Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the various parts of the body, and white blood cells fight infections. Both are necessary, but they have to be in the body in the right proportions or systems will break down.

Anemia is a shortage of red blood cells, a condition which can be caused by a number of different factors. Women of childbearing age are more likely to be anemic than anyone else because they lose red blood cells monthly through menstruation. Anemia caused by a lack of iron in the diet is easily treated by iron supplements. Other types of anemia with less easily remedied causes can be harder to treat and life-threatening. Hematology diagnoses these conditions and prescribes appropriate treatments for them.

Leukemia is a condition in which the bone marrow produces too many white blood cells. These are typically abnormal white cells, and their sheer numbers crowd out the red blood cells, causing anemia and other dangerous symptoms. Hematology recognizes a number of different types of leukemia, with different causes and treatment protocols.

Acute leukemia needs immediate treatment, since it is immediately life-threatening, yet some forms of chronic leukemia can be watched without treatment until symptoms emerge. Chemotherapy can do much for leukemia sufferers and is currently one of the main tools in a doctor's leukemia toolbox. Bone marrow transplants, which are considerably more intrusive, are another.

Symptoms of diseases that fall under the hematology umbrella are widely varied and easily confused with other diseases. However, a quick blood test for cell counts can quickly tell a hematologist whether or not a patient has a disorder of the blood.

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Discussion Comments

By anon111360 — On Sep 16, 2010

I am samuel, a medical student in the field of laboratory department studying hematology and-microbiology as well as clinical chemistry. I want to get into a specialized on one field so i want you to help me. Please suggest to me the best one.

By anon92485 — On Jun 28, 2010

i am a third year microbiology student,in one of the Nigerian universities. i had wanted to study medicine and specialise in gynecology afterwards but that didn't work out. i would like to know if i can still specialise in gynecology after my present course of study or is there any course which is related to women's health that i can study afterwards? Vivian N.

By anon4228 — On Oct 08, 2007

I'm a student at university, I'm one of the members of the magazine which is about microbiology. This is my first time that I want to find a good article for our magazine, so I want you to help me to find the best one! I have to add something that I'm new. I mean that this is my first year that I am studying microbiology and I haven't got any good and complete information about may course! I'm waiting for your answer. (university student)

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