Hematologic malignancies are cancers that arise in the blood or lymphatic system. Blood cancers, or leukemias, start when bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells, red blood cells, or platelets that grow uncontrollably. These cells, which cannot function normally, crowd out the normal cells and make a patient ill. Lymphomas develop from the cells (lymphocytes) that make up the immune system. Myeloma occurs in the cells in the bone marrow, which are responsible for making antibodies.
Some hematologic cancers are slow-growing and patients may live with them for years without major treatment. Others grow quickly and need immediate treatment. About one-third of the patients find that a bone marrow or stem cell transplant is their only life-saving option. UMMC is the only place in Mississippi where patients can receive stem cell or bone marrow transplants. This care team also treats patients with various types of blood disorders.
At the UMMC Cancer Institute, hematologists, doctors who specialize in blood and lymphatic disorders, work with a large group of other doctors, specialists, and support personnel to help you recover. Your team may also include pathologists, transfusion medicine specialists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, nurses with experience in blood and lymphatic disorders, medical technologists, counselors, dieticians, and social workers.
Team members meet regularly as a group to review imaging, pathology, and other matters unique to each patient. Together, they consider and discuss a patient's type of cancer, how advanced it is, and other conditions or personal matters that may impact treatment recommendations. Members follow National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines in developing treatment plans.
This team also includes a coordinator who helps guide patients through the ins and outs of cancer treatment and coordinates their initial visit.
Contact the coordinator to schedule appointments or ask questions beforehand. We’ll work to schedule all of your appointments at the same time to make your care easier and more convenient. Most services will be at the Cancer Institute in the Jackson Medical Mall, but we also provide cancer care on the main campus at University Hospital and the University Physicians Pavilion. Bone marrow transplants are done at Conerly Critical Care Hospital.
UMMC leads the state in technology and treatment for leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma. We are home to the only bone marrow transplant unit in Mississippi, and offer treatment for adults and children. Here, patients can receive allogenic transplants, where they receive peripheral blood stem cells from a sibling, close relative, or matching donor. We also provide autologous transplants, or rescue transplants, where patients receive their own stem cells collected prior to chemotherapy.
Other treatment for patients with hematologic cancers may also include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, biological therapy, and clinical trials, when appropriate.
The UMMC blood bank is managed by a transfusion medicine physician and provides patients with transfusions of red blood cells, plasma, or platelets. The main blood bank, maintained by UMMC Pathology, is located in University Hospital. A satellite bank is located at the Cancer Institute in the Jackson Medical Mall for patients with blood cancers or who are receiving chemotherapy.
Cancer can take an emotional toll on you and your family, and our job is to help you through it. Whether you need financial assistance, advice, counseling, referral to a support group, or any other social or medical services, your nurse coordinator can quickly connect you to the care you’re looking for.
Doctors may recommend you undergo more testing to help tell how far your cancer has spread. Staging and grading have multiple components. Staging is determining how far your cancer has spread. Grading is a way of rating what the cells look like. Increasingly we use molecular subtyping of hematologic malignancies. Once your hematology care team gathers this information, they can recommend the best treatment for you.
Definitions provided by the website of the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov).
A type of leukemia (blood cancer) that comes on quickly and is fast growing. In acute lymphoblastic leukemia, there are too many lymphoblasts (immature white blood cells) in the blood and bone marrow. Also called acute lymphocytic leukemia and ALL.
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An aggressive (fast-growing) disease in which too many myeloblasts (immature white blood cells that are not lymphoblasts) are found in the bone marrow and blood. Also called acute myeloblastic leukemia, acute myelogenous leukemia, acute nonlymphocytic leukemia, AML, and ANLL.
An indolent (slow-growing) cancer in which too many immature lymphocytes (white blood cells) are found mostly in the blood and bone marrow. Sometimes, in later stages of the disease, cancer cells are found in the lymph nodes and the disease is called small cell lymphocytic lymphoma. Also called CLL.
An indolent (slow-growing) cancer in which too many myeloblasts are found in the blood and bone marrow. Myeloblasts are a type of immature blood cell that makes white blood cells called myeloid cells. Chronic myeloid leukemia may get worse over time as the number of myeloblasts increases in the blood and bone marrow. This may cause fever, fatigue, easy bleeding, anemia, infection, a swollen spleen, bone pain, or other signs and symptoms. Chronic myeloid leukemia is usually marked by a chromosome change called the Philadelphia chromosome, in which a piece of chromosome 9 and a piece of chromosome 22 break off and trade places with each other. It usually occurs in older adults and rarely occurs in children. Also called chronic granulocytic leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia, and CML.
A cancer of the immune system that is marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell. The two major types of Hodgkin lymphoma are classical Hodgkin lymphoma and nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma. Symptoms include the painless enlargement of lymph nodes, spleen, or other immune tissue. Other symptoms include fever, weight loss, fatigue, or night sweats. Also called Hodgkin disease.
A type of cancer that begins in plasma cells (white blood cells that produce antibodies). Also called Kahler disease, myelomatosis, and plasma cell myeloma.
A disorder in which the bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells (white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets) and there are abnormal cells in the blood and/or bone marrow. When there are fewer healthy blood cells, infection, anemia, or bleeding may occur. Sometimes, myelodysplastic syndrome can evolve into acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Also called MDS.
Any of a large group of cancers of lymphocytes (white blood cells). Non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur at any age and are often marked by lymph nodes that are larger than normal, fever, and weight loss. There are many different types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. These types can be divided into aggressive (fast-growing) and indolent (slow-growing) types, and they can be formed from either B-cells or T-cells. B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas include Burkitt lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, immunoblastic large cell lymphoma, precursor B-lymphoblastic lymphoma, and mantle cell lymphoma. T-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas include mycosis fungoides, anaplastic large cell lymphoma, and precursor T-lymphoblastic lymphoma. Lymphomas that occur after bone marrow or stem cell transplantation are usually B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Prognosis and treatment depend on the stage and type of disease. Also called NHL.
A tumor that begins in plasma cells (white blood cells that produce antibodies). Multiple myeloma, monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), and plasmacytoma are types of plasma cell tumors.