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Haematology is the medical specialty for patients with blood and bone marrow diseases

Haematology is the medical specialty for patients with blood and bone marrow diseases. There are many “non cancer” blood disorders like bleeding problems, clotting problems, anaemia and low blood counts.

There more common types of blood cancer are:

  • Myeloma
  • Non Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)
  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL)
  • Acute myeloid and acute lymphoid leukaemia (AML and ALL)
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS)
  • Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN)
  • Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML)
  • with other rare but related diseases

Most blood cancers start in the bone marrow, the factory for blood cells. People with blood cancers often have problems making the three normal blood cells – red blood cells, white cells and platelets. Instead, they have uncontrolled growth of cancerous blood cells.

People with blood cancers can present with different symptoms/problems, the most common are:

  • Infections (lowered immune system)
  • Bleeding or bruising (low or faulty platelets)
  • Fatigue/tiredness (low red cells; anaemia)
  • Swollen lymph glands or lumps (collections of lymphoma cells)

Some people discover a blood cancer on routine blood tests and they may have no symptoms.

Many blood cancers can be cured. The best treatment depends on the particular cancer, its stage and the person’s general health. Sometimes slow growing blood cancers need no treatment, and people are simply monitored (called “watch and wait”). Sometimes tablets can be effective or intravenous (drip) chemotherapy might be the best option. Radiotherapy is sometimes given, but surgery is usually only for taking a biopsy to make a diagnosis. Occasionally a bone marrow (stem cell) transplant is the best treatment to keep the cancer away.

There are many new and exciting treatments being developed to improve the outlook for people with blood cancers – ‘targeted therapy’, ‘immunotherapy’, ‘epigenetic therapies’ and ‘personalised medicine’ approaches are all currently being tested in clinical trials in blood cancers.

Why be treated at Cabrini?

At Cabrini, we provide patient focused, evidence based care for adults with all types of blood cancers, except intensive initial therapy for acute leukaemia and bone marrow (stem cell) transplantation. If patients require these treatments we have close collaborations with several large academic hospitals in Melbourne and a streamlined referral service to ensure patients receive the best quality care, returning to their primary haematologist after completing therapy.

We are engaged in teaching and research, with advanced haematology trainees rotating through Cabrini from Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and undergraduate medical students on our team.

We have regular multidisciplinary meetings to discuss new cases of blood cancer amongst various specialists, and to plan the best treatment for the individual patient.

We have standardised, evidence based chemotherapy pathways, a new clinical database of blood diseases, and in advanced development of standard treatment pathways for management of all common blood cancers. Our clinicians are experts in blood cancer research with clinical trials available for many diseases through the Cabrini Institute, and close partnerships with large academic centres so we can offer state of the art treatments before they become widely available.

Many patients receive outpatient treatments at our busy Day Oncology Wards at both Brighton and Malvern, or will be admitted for treatment to our dedicated oncology wards.

We are developing exciting new integrated care models in Haematology, the first, our Living Well with Lymphoma program, is a multidisciplinary program following best practice guidelines in care planning and survivorship for all patients with lymphoma.

Our Specialist Lead Haematologists

Lead Haematology Specialty Group:

Dr Melita Kenealy

Our other Consultant Haematologists:

Dr Patrick Elliott

Dr Kirsten Herbert

Dr Henry Januszewicz

Prof Anthony Schwarer

Dr Gaurav Srivastava

A/Prof Max Wolf

For more information