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Hematologic cancers: a brief and simple definition of what they are

Hematologic tumors, also called hematologic neoplasia or blood cancer, are cancers that affect cells in the bone marrow, lymphatic system, or immune system. Basically, a hematological problem originates from the proliferation and survival of the two main blood cell lines: myeloid and lymphoid cell lines.

Hematologic oncology is that branch of medicine that deals, precisely, with blood cancers. That is, of those cancers that affect the production and function of blood cells and is a medical discipline older than cancerology.

Most of these tumors start in the bone marrow where blood is produced. Stem cells in the bone marrow mature and develop into three types of blood cells:

  • red blood cells
  • white blood cells
  • Platelets.

In most hematological cancers, the normal process of blood cell development is disrupted by the uncontrolled growth of an abnormal type of blood cells. These abnormal blood cells, or cancer cells, prevent the blood from performing many of its functions, such as fighting infection or preventing severe bleeding.

 

Hematological cancers: the three main types of blood cancers.

Hematological canc ers now account for about 5% of all cancers, and there are three main types. Specifically, they are:

  • Leukemia, which is a type of cancer found in the blood and bone marrow. Caused by rapid production of abnormal white blood cells. The high number of abnormal white blood cells is unable to fight infection and impairs the ability of the bone marrow to produce red blood cells and platelets;
  • Lymphoma, which is a type of hematologic cancer. It affects the lymphatic system, which removes excess fluid from the body and produces immune cells. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that fights infection. Abnormal lymphocytes become lymphoma cells, which multiply and collect in lymph nodes and other tissues. Over time, these cancer cells damage the immune system;
  • Myeloma, which is a cancer of plasma cells. White blood cells that produce antibodies that fight disease and infection in the body. Myeloma cells prevent normal antibody production, leaving the body’s immune system weakened and susceptible to infection.

The progress in the case of a hematological problem recorded in recent years has been the most marked. This is due to the fact that hematologic tum ors are “liquid tumors.” That is, tumors whose cells circulate in a liquid: blood or lymph. Therefore, these tumors are easily accessible to perform various molecular biology tests. Such as blood sampling or lymph node samples. Above all, they are particularly sensitive to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.