Clinical Haematology – Blood Doctor in the House (Part 1)

What is Clinical Haematology?

Clinical Haematology is a sub speciality in Internal Medicine, dealing with blood diseases.  The blood, otherwise known as the haematopoietic system consists of Red cells, White cells, Platelets, Plasma, Coagulation factors and Lymph nodes.

What is the role of a Clinical Haematologist?

A Clinical Haematologist is the most qualified person to treat blood diseases.  These are generally divided into General Haematology and Blood Cancers (Haematological Malignancies or Haemato-oncology).

What kind of problems are seen in General Haematology?

The most common problems seen in General Haematology are Anaemia (low Haemoglobin), Thrombocytopenia (low platelets) or abnormal blood counts.  These could be primary diseases on their own, but also could be early signs for blood cancers or other medical conditions. The common diseases seen are

  • Nutritional Anaemia (Iron, B12 and Folate deficiencies)
  • Haemolytic Anaemia
  • Thalassaemia and Haemoglobin disorders
  • Aplastic Anaemia
  • Immune Thrombocytopenia

Other types of problems are bleeding and clotting disorders.  They include diseases such as

  • Deep Vein Thrombosis
  • Venous and Arterial Thromboembolism
  • Haemophilia
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome
  • Thrombotic disorders/Thrombophilia
What are Blood Cancers (Haematological Malignancies)?

Each cellular component of the blood including the lymph nodes may develop cancer.  The more commonly known blood cancers are

  • Leukaemia (Cancer of the white cells)
  • Lymphoma (Cancer of the lymph node tissues)
  • Multiple Myeloma (Cancer of the plasma cells, a type of white cell)

Other types of blood cancers seen are

  • Myeloproliferative neoplasm (Proliferation of red cell, white cell and platelet precursors). 
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome (“Dysfunctional” blood cells, which may lead to leukaemia)