Blood disorders prevent blood from doing its job effectively and can affect the red blood cells (those that carry oxygen throughout the body), white blood cells (those that fight infection), platelets (the cells that help blood clot) or plasma (the liquid that carries blood cells).
What are blood disorders?
A variety of blood disorders exist, and include:
anemia, when the blood doesn’t have or make enough red blood cells
platelet disorders, like clotting disorders and bleeding problems
cancers of the blood
Who develops blood disorders?
Blood disorders are often inherited, though rarely they can develop later in life. If you have a family history of blood disorders, speak with your doctor about getting tested for certain blood disorders.
What are the symptoms of blood disorders?
Symptoms of blood disorders vary by disorder and what part of the blood it affects. Symptoms of anemia may include fatigue, shortness of breath and pale skin. Symptoms of platelet disorders include easy bruising; heavy bleeding from small cuts; sudden, unexplained nosebleeds; and blood in urine or stool. Symptoms of blood cancers may be vague and include fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, frequent infections, easy bleeding or bruising, excessive thirst, weakness or unexplained weight loss.
How are blood disorders diagnosed?
A sample of the blood is taken and tested. If a blood cancer is suspected, urine, bone marrow and additional blood tests are performed.
How are blood disorders treated?
Depending on the type, anemia is treated with medications, diet changes or supplements. Surgery may be required for some cases. Treatment for platelet disorders depends on the type of disorder and may include taking medications or blood thinners, or undergoing replacement therapy to replace the damaged or absent platelets. Treatment for cancers of the blood depends on the type of cancer and may include bone marrow transplants, stem cell transplants, chemotherapy and radiation.
To learn more about the multidisciplinary treatment modalities available for blood disorders, at The Daniel and Gloria Blumenthal Cancer Center, please call 201-634-5339.