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Childhood Hematology Disorders Facts

Hematology focuses on the cells, proteins and other materials that make up blood, as well as diseases and abnormalities of the blood.

Blood has many different parts, including red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, proteins, plasma and more. There are disorders related to all of these, including some hematology disorders that can be brought on by cancer and its treatments. The childhood hematology disorders treated at MD Anderson include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

  • Bone marrow failure disorders: Bone marrow is the material inside bones that makes the different type of blood cells. In some cases, the marrow produces too little of a specific kind of blood cell. There are different types of bone marrow failure disorders, including:
    • Fanconi anemia
    • Diamond-Blackfan anemia
    • Aplastic anemia
    • Schwachman- Diamond syndrome
    • Severe congenital neutropenia, also known as Kostmann’s syndrome
  • Anemia: Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body and return carbon dioxide from these parts to the lungs. People with anemia do not have enough red blood cells. Some anemias are caused by bone marrow failure disorders. While cancer patients with sickle cell anemia are treated at MD Anderson, we do not typically manage patients with a primary diagnosis of sickle cell anemia.
  • Neutropenia: White blood cells fight infections. Patients with neutropenia means do not have enough white blood cells.
  • Thrombocytopenia: Platelets are cells that help with blood clot formation. In patients with this condition, these cells are decreased, leaving the individual vulnerable to excessive bruising or bleeding.
  • Hemoglobinopathies: Hemoglobin is the molecule in red blood cells that actually bonds with oxygen and carbon dioxide, allowing them to be moved throughout the body. In patients with a hemoglobinopathy, there is a problem with the production or structure of hemoglobin molecules.
  • Erythrocytosis: The opposite of anemia, erythrocytosis is the production of too many red blood cells, which can lead to blood clots and other problems.
  • Histiocytic disorders: Patients with a histiocytic disorder have too many of a specific group of white blood cells called histiocytes. This can lead to organ damage and/or tumor formation. There are many types of histiocytic disorders, each of which is classified based on the type of histiocyte.
  • Iron overload: Iron is an important component of blood. The body can have too much iron, though. This condition can occur naturally or can be caused by a patient receiving multiple blood transfusions.
  • Clotting and other bleeding disorders

Some hematology disorders can be passed down from one generation to the next. Genetic counseling may be right for you. Learn more about the risk to you and your family on our genetic testing page.

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