Hematology and oncology are fields of medicine that diagnose, treat and prevent diseases of the blood and cancer as well as research them. Some diseases that are treated by doctors who specialize in hematology and oncology in Louisiana include leukemia and lymphoma.
Leukemia occurs when cancer attacks the tissues within the body that form blood. This can include the lymphatic system and the bone marrow. This disease usually begins in leukocytes or white blood cells. Although leukocytes function to fight off infection by growing and dividing in an orderly manner as the body requires them, those who develop this disease have large numbers of uncharacteristic leukocytes that do not perform properly, which are produced with bone marrow. Leukemia, depending on its type, can strike anyone at any age. There are types that mainly affect children and there are certain types that only affect adults. Normally this form of cancer is due to a mutation of DNA within blood cells. If this mutation occurs, cells begin to grow and divide at a rapid speed and while other healthy cells die off, these mutated ones continue to live. As time goes by, the mutated cells begin to overcrowd healthy cells, which result in the signs and symptoms of leukemia. Treatment depends on the type of leukemia as well as other factors. Among the common types of treatment that are used on patients with this disorder include radiation, chemotherapy, medications that target the cancer, biological therapy that assists the immune system in helping to find and fight the leukemia and stem cell transplants, which replace unhealthy bone marrow with healthy bone marrow.
Lymphoma is a cancer that attacks the lymphatic system, which is normally responsible for fighting off disease. Lymphatic systems contain the spleen, lymph nodes, bone marrow and the thymus gland. Cancer can affect the entire system including all of these organs as well as other organs in the body. Hodgkin’s disease is one form of lymphoma that attacks the lymphatic system. This occurs as cells within the lymphatic system begin to abnormally grow and gather in the organs of this system. As Hodgkin’s disease progresses, the body’s ability to ward off infection becomes inhibited, resulting in the development of tumors. Because the lymphatic system is located throughout the body, this form of cancer can spread through the lymph nodes to many areas of the body. Although this form of cancer was once considered a fatal disease, with advancements in diagnostic technology and advanced treatments, Hodgkin’s disease is now very treatable.