A hematologist-oncologist is a physician who specializes
in the diagnosis, treatment and/or prevention of blood diseases and cancers
such as iron-deficiency anemia, hemophilia, sickle-cell disease, leukemia and
lymphoma. This physician is trained in hematology — the study of blood
— and oncology — the study of cancer.
Hematologist-oncologists do not usually treat operable
cancers such as prostate cancer, but specialize in treating blood cancers, such
as Hodgkins and non-Hodgkins lymphomas, leukemias and multiple myelomas. A
hematologist-oncologist may also specialize in the management of solid tumors.
After completion of medical school, residency lasts
between 2 and 4 years and includes both inpatient and outpatient rotations.
During this time, fellows receive first-hand experience in managing various
cancer types and blood disorders. The some of the top hematologist-oncologist
fellowship programs are the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Memorial
Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Although many hematology-oncology graduates end up
solely focusing on oncology, the two specialties intersect in the understanding
of leukemias, lymphomas and solid tumors. Hematology and oncology are further
joined in the diagnosis and management of hematologic conditions that may
accompany various malignancies.
Areas of study
These physicians may train to become pediatric
hematologist-oncologists where they care for children with cancer, hemophilia
and/or sickle-cell disease. Training includes a 3-year residency in pediatrics
after medical school where residents are exposed to pediatric
hematology-oncology during rotation.
Some hematologist-oncologists may convert to the field
of stem cell transplantation. A stem cell transplant consists of the infusion
of healthy stem cells into a patient’s body that does not produce enough
healthy stem cells. This type of procedure, also dubbed a bone marrow
transplant, decreases the risk for serious infections, anemia and bleeding.
Connection to other branches of medicine
Hematologist-oncologists often work closely with
colleagues from other departments including: radiation-oncology, surgery,
radiology and pathology. Other associated specialties include infectious
disease, pain medicine and psychology.
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