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What Is a Hematologist vs. Oncologist?

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a blood disorder or cancer, you may wonder what type of doctor you need to see. Two specialists who commonly treat these conditions are hematologists and oncologists. While their fields of expertise overlap, there are important differences between these two medical professionals.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the unique roles of hematologists and oncologists, the conditions they treat, and how they work together to provide the best possible care for their patients. So if you’re curious about the differences between these two specialties, keep reading!

What Is a Hematologist vs. Oncologist?

Hematologists and oncologists are medical doctors specializing in treating conditions related to blood and cancer. However, there are important distinctions between these two fields.

Hematologists are experts in disorders related to the blood and blood-forming tissues, such as the bone marrow and lymphatic system. They diagnose and treat conditions like anemia, leukemia, lymphoma, and sickle cell disease. Hematologists may also work with patients with bleeding disorders, like hemophilia, or blood clotting disorders, like thrombophilia. They may conduct bone marrow biopsies and transfusions and oversee treatments like chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

Oncologistson the other hand, specialize in diagnosing and treating cancer. They work with patients with a wide range of cancer types, including breast, lung, prostate, and many others. Oncologists may use a variety of treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, and targeted therapy. They also play a key role in helping patients manage the side effects of cancer treatment and improving their quality of life, with some specialists focusing specifically on radiation oncology.

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While these two specialties are distinct, they often work closely together to provide the best possible care for patients. For example, a hematologist may diagnose a patient’s blood cancer, while an oncologist will provide treatment and manage the patient’s care. Sometimes, a physician may specialize in hematology and oncology and be called a hematologist-oncologist.

Overall, both hematologists and oncologists play a vital role in helping patients manage blood disorders and cancer. By working together and combining their expertise, they can provide patients with the best possible care and improve their chances of a successful outcome.

Oncologist and Hematologist: What Common Blood Diseases Do They Treat?

Hematology and oncology are medical fields dealing with diseases and conditions affecting the blood, bone marrow, lymphatic system, and other organs and tissues.

Here are some examples of hematology-oncology diseases that hematologists and oncologists commonly treat:

  1. Leukemia: A type of blood cancer that affects the white blood cells. Leukemia can be acute or chronic and is characterized by the rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells.
  2. Lymphoma: A type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system, which helps the body fight infections. There are two main types of lymphoma: Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  3. Multiple myeloma: A type of blood cancer affecting the plasma cells, a type of white blood cell that produces antibodies. Multiple myeloma can cause bone pain, fatigue, and other symptoms.
  4. Anemia: A condition with a shortage of red blood cells, which can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, and other symptoms. One can find more information about anemia on the American Society of Hematology website.
  5. Hemophilia: A genetic disorder that affects the body’s ability to clot blood, leading to excessive bleeding.
  6. Thrombocytopenia is a condition with a low platelet count that can cause easy bruising and bleeding.
  7. Breast cancer: A type of cancer that starts in the breast tissue. Breast cancer can be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy. One may find more detailed information on breast cancer on the American Cancer Society website.
  8. Lung cancer: A type of cancer that starts in the lungs. Lung cancer is often caused by smoking and can be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy.
  9. Prostate cancer: A type of cancer that starts in the prostate gland in men. Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or hormonal therapy can treat prostate cancer.
  10. Colon cancer: A type of cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. Colon cancer can be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy.

These are just a few examples of the many diseases and conditions that hematologists and oncologists may treat. If you are experiencing symptoms related to these conditions, seeking medical advice from a qualified specialist is important.

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Does a Hematologist Oncologist Differ from a Hematologist?

Yes, a hematologist-oncologist is different from a hematologist. While both specialties deal with blood-related conditions, a hematologist oncologist has specialized training in both hematology (blood disorders) and oncology (cancer). This means that hematologist oncologists are experts in diagnosing and treating blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma, as well as other blood disorders such as anemia, bleeding and clotting disorders, and blood transfusion management.

Why would you see a hematologist-oncologist? In addition to their expertise in blood-related conditions, hematologist oncologists are skilled in treating solid tumors, such as breast, lung, and colon cancer. They are trained to use a range of treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.

Overall, hematologist oncologists have a broad and comprehensive understanding of both hematologic and oncologic conditions, which allows them to provide integrated and coordinated care for patients with complex medical issues. Hematologists, on the other hand, specialize in diagnosing and treating blood disorders only and do not have the same level of expertise in treating solid tumors as hematologist oncologists.

Does Seeing a Hematologist Mean I Have Cancer?

No, seeing a hematologist does not necessarily mean that you have cancer. Hematologists are medical specialists trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of blood disorders and conditions, including anemia, bleeding, clotting disorders, blood transfusion management, and blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.

If your primary care physician or another medical specialist suspects you have a blood disorder or condition, they may refer you to a hematologist for further evaluation and management. Often, a hematologist can help diagnose and treat your condition without additional testing or invasive procedures.

However, if your hematologist suspects that you may have blood cancer or another serious condition, they may order additional tests or refer you to an oncologist or another specialist for further evaluation and treatment.

It’s important to remember that many blood disorders and conditions are treatable and manageable, and seeing a hematologist is important in getting the care and treatment you need. If you have concerns about your health or have been referred to a hematologist, it’s important to follow up with your medical provider and get the care you need.

Does a Hematologist Do Surgery?

In general, hematologists do not perform surgery as this is outside the scope of their specialty. Hematology is a medical specialty that focuses on diagnosing, treating, and managing blood disorders and blood-related conditions such as anemia, bleeding and clotting disorders, and blood transfusion management. 

Hematologists may also diagnose and treat blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. Still, their role is primarily focused on the medical management of these conditions rather than surgical intervention.

If a patient with a hematologic condition requires surgery as part of their treatment, they may be referred to a surgeon specializing in that particular type of surgery. For example, suppose a patient with a blood clotting disorder requires a surgical procedure. In that case, they may be referred to a vascular surgeon with expertise in managing this condition. 

Alternatively, if a patient with blood cancer requires surgery as part of their treatment, they may be referred to a surgical oncologist who specializes in the surgical management of cancer.

Hematologist Oncologist Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for physicians and surgeons, including hematologist oncologists, was $208,000 as of May 2020. However, it’s important to note that salary can vary depending on various factors, such as geographic location, years of experience, and specialty.

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How to Find a Hematologist Near You

If you are looking for a hematologist near you, there are several resources you can use to find a qualified specialist. Here are a few options:

  1. Ask your primary care physician for a referral: Your primary care physician can refer you to a hematologist in your area who is qualified to treat your specific condition.
  2. Check with your health insurance provider: Your health insurance provider may have a directory of hematologists who are in-network and can provide coverage for your medical needs.
  3. Use online search tools: Several online search tools allow you to find hematologists near you. Some examples include Healthgrades, Zocdoc, and Vitals. These sites will enable you to search for hematologists by location, specialty, and other criteria. Use online search engines such as Google or Bing to search for “hematologist near me” or “hematologist-oncologist near me in [your location]” to get a list of local providers.
  4. Contact a local hospital or medical center: Many hospitals and medical centers have hematologists on staff. You can contact the hospital or medical center directly to inquire about their hematology services and to find a specialist near you.

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