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Haematology is the study of conditions and disorders that affect the blood, the production of blood and the components of blood. A haematologist is a specialist physician who trains in this medical field of study.

Haematology is a discipline in medicine that focuses on the study, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of conditions and illnesses that affect blood and the production of blood and its components such as haemoglobin, white blood cells, platelets, bone marrow, blood proteins, the spleen, the blood vessels, clotting factors and the mechanisms of coagulation.

Haematologists will consult with patients of all blood-related conditions, but there are those who will sub-specialise in heamato-oncology where they will provide treatment for the types of cancers that affect blood and its components.

Training

In order for a doctor to become a qualified haematologist, they will have to obtain their undergraduate medical degree that qualifies them as a medical doctor and it takes 5-6 years to complete. Thereafter they will have to take part in a mandatory internship training programme, that takes 1-2 years to complete, where the newly qualified doctor is exposed to the numerous medical and surgical disciplines that exist.

The doctor will then be allowed to specialise where they will have to complete a 4 year residency programme in internal medicine, and this will be followed by a fellowship training programme in haematology that takes 2-3 years to complete. It can therefore take a doctor between 12-15 years to become a qualified haematologist.

Conditions managed by Haematologists

Nutritional anaemias

  • Iron deficiency anaemia.
  • Pernicious anaemia (vitamin B12 deficiency).
  • Megaloblastic hereditary and megaloblastic nutritional anaemia.
  • Folate deficiency anaemia.
  • Transcobalamin 2 deficiency anaemia.
  • Protein deficiency anaemia.
  • Scurvy due to vitamin C deficiency.

Non-nutritional anaemias

  • Acute post-haemorrhagic anaemia.
  • Acanthocytosis.
  • Alpha-thalassaemia.
  • Beta-thalassaemia.
  • Anaemia of chronic diseases due to a chronic inflammatory response.
  • Autoimmune haemolytic anaemia.
  • Aplastic anaemia.
  • Anaemia due to chronic kidney illness.
  • Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency anaemia.
  • Haemolytic anamia.
  • Hereditary anaemia.
  • Rhesus deficiency syndrome.
  • Sickle-cell anaemia.

Lymphomas

  • Hodgkin's lymphoma.
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
  • Hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma.
  • Angioimmuloblastic T-cell lymphoma.
  • B-cell lymphoma.
  • Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.
  • Intravascular large B-cell lymphoma.
  • Follicular lymphoma.
  • Burkitt's lymphoma.

Leukaemias

  • Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).
  • Acute lymphocytic leukaemia (ALL).
  • Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML).
  • Chronic lymphoblastic leukaemia (CLL).
  • Polycythaemia vera.
  • Hairy cell leukaemia.

Myelomas

  • Multiple myeloma
  • Myelomatosis.
  • Plasma cell leukaemia.

Malignant immunoproliferative diseases

  • Monoclonal gammopathy.
  • Lymphoid granulomatosis.
  • Alpha heavy chain disease.
  • Gamma heavy chain disease.

Haemorrhagic conditions and coagulopathies

  • Thrombocytosis.
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC).
  • Haemophilia A, B and C.
  • Thrombocytopaenia.
  • Recurrent thrombosis.
  • Idiopathic thrombocytopaenic purpura (ITP).
  • Thrombotic thrombocytopaenic purpura (TTP).
  • Factor V Leiden.
  • Protein C deficiency.
  • Protein S deficiency.
  • Antiphospholipid syndrome
  • Von Willebrand disease.

Infective conditions

  • Malaria (Plasmodium infection).
  • E. coli 0157:H7 infection.
  • Clostridium infection.
  • Typhoid fever.
  • Cholera infection.
  • Toxoplasmosis.
  • Leishmaniasis.

Immune-related conditions

  • Hereditary hypogammaglobulinaemia.
  • Immunodeficiency with increased immunoglobulin M (IgM).
  • Non-familial hypogammaglobulinaemia.
  • Selective deficiency of immunoglobulin A (IgA), immunoglobulin M (IgM) and immunoglobulin G (IgG) subclasses.
  • Transient hypogammaglobulinaemia of infancy.
  • Antibody deficiency with near-normal immunoglobulins or with hyperimmunoglobulinaemia.
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