Hematological malignancies are cancers that begin in blood-forming tissue, such as the bone marrow, or in the cells of the immune system.
Examples of hematologic cancer are leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma, also called blood cancer. Various hematological malignancies may occur. The most common ones include:
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
- Multiple Myeloma
- Hodgkin's disease
- Myeloproliferative disorders
Chemotherapy for Hematological Malignancies
Anticancer drugs given by IV injection or taken by mouth enter the bloodstream and affect cells in most parts of the body. However, the drugs often do not reach cells in the central nervous system because they are stopped by the blood-brain barrier. This protective barrier is formed by a network of blood vessels that filter blood going to the brain and spinal cord. To reach cells in the central nervous system, doctors may use intrathecal chemotherapy. In this type of leukemia treatment, anticancer drugs are injected directly into the cerebrospinal fluid.
Chemotherapy is usually given in cycles. Periods of chemotherapy treatment are alternated with rest periods when no chemotherapy is given. Chemotherapy may be administered in a single day, over the course of days to weeks to months. The frequency of chemotherapy depends largely on the type of cancer and type of drug or drugs being given. The length of time for chemotherapy is based on evidence guidelines, response to treatment, and side effects.
Common drugs given for hematological cancers include biological modifiers, antineoplastic drugs, and targeted therapy.
Side effects from treatment can be well controlled and may include hair loss, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, appetite changes, nausea or vomiting, and decreased blood counts.