Hematology Frequently Asked Questions
What is a hematologist?
A hematologist is a doctor who specializes in blood disorders and conditions of the lymphatic system, which includes the lymph nodes and neighboring vessels. These specialists research, diagnose, treat, and work to prevent many diseases that involve your red and white blood cells, blood vessels, and more.
Hematologists treat a variety of conditions that affect your blood and blood-forming organs. Some of these conditions include:
- anemia: a condition in which there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells in your body
- deep vein thrombosis: this is when blood clots form inside your veins
- hemophilia: a condition that prevents your blood from clotting
- leukemia: a type of cancer that affects your blood cells
- lymphoma: a type of cancer that affects your lymph nodes and vessels
- thalassemia: a condition affecting hemoglobin production
- sepsis: an infection in your blood that can cause organ failure
- sickle cell anemia: this prevents your red blood cells from circulating
As blood specialists, hematologists spend a lot of time studying blood, diagnosing blood conditions, and performing various procedures. Some of the tests and procedures performed by a hematologist include:
- complete blood count: a test that helps your doctor diagnose and monitor diseases
- prothrombin time: a test that looks for bleeding or blood clotting disorders
- blood transfusion: a procedure to replace the blood you’ve lost
- chemotherapy: a procedure that infuses your blood with chemicals to kill fast-growing cancer cells
- bone marrow transplant: a stem cell transplant that replaces diseased cells with healthy ones
- ablation therapy: a procedure that uses various therapies to destroy damaged tissue
Most first visits to a hematologist start with a referral made by your primary care physician (PCP). There are several reasons why your PCP may refer you to a hematologist, including low red blood cell counts, blood clot complications, blood infections, or the development of certain cancers.