Blood Cancer

At St. Elizabeth Healthcare, we understand that a cancer diagnosis affects every aspect of your life. Our multidisciplinary team of experts focuses on your individual needs and goals to offer personalized cancer care that provides the best possible outcome. We walk with you every step of your cancer journey to address your concerns in real-time and get you on the road to survivorship.

We build a team with the expertise you need to manage the health challenges cancer brings, including board certified medical and surgical oncologists, genetics, physical therapists, social workers, nurses, physician assistants and pastoral care. These compassionate, experienced professionals all work together to ensure you receive the most advanced diagnosis, treatment and management options available today.

What are blood cancers?

Blood cancers affect both the production of your blood cells and how well they function. They typically start in your bone marrow and most often result in excessive and abnormal reproduction of white blood cells. Our team offers comprehensive care for all types of blood cancers, including: 

Blood test in a lab. Drops of blood for a test tube to a microscope plate.

Make an appointment

For more information, please contact your oncologist or the Cancer Care Center at (859) 301-4000

Blood Cancer Screening

Researchers are working hard to detect blood cancers in their earliest stages, but so far, no test is reliable at detecting blood cancer before symptoms start. There are not yet screening procedures for blood cancers such as leukemia, multiple myeloma or lymphoma.

Doctors may discover blood cancer when doing blood work for other suspected illness or during a routine physical examination.

Blood Cancer Genetic Testing

If you have a family history of cancer and are concerned you could develop it, genetic counseling is an option to consider. It can help determine whether you carry a cancer mutation or gene that increases your risk. St. Elizabeth is the only cancer program in Northern Kentucky that offers a team of on-site genetic counselors.

For patients diagnosed with blood cancer, our hereditary cancer program offers information and resources on inherited disease. Genetic testing can help determine how a cancer will respond to treatment — and allow us to develop a laser-focused treatment plan specific to your cancer cells’ anatomy.

Blood Cancer Diagnosis

Diagnosing blood cancer typically begins with a physical examination and a review of any symptoms you may be having. If your doctor suspects you could have blood cancer, you will need further testing.

Properties in your blood provide valuable clues to your health. Several blood tests are used to diagnose blood cancer. These include:

  • Bone marrow aspiration or biopsy — Uses samples of bone and bone marrow to determine if your bone marrow is producing enough healthy blood cells and whether abnormal cells are present.
  • Complete blood count (CBC) — Measures white blood cells, red blood cells, hemoglobin, hematocrit and platelets. Abnormal numbers indicate a potential problem.
  • Flow cytometry — Identifies the characteristics, number and percentage of blood cells and bone marrow cells.

  • Genetic testing — Looks for specific DNA markers that could indicate the presence of damaged chromosomes that cause certain blood cancers.

  • Imaging tests including X-rays, CT, PET and MRI scans — Procedures that provide an inside view of your body and detect any internal swelling, tumors or abnormal masses.

  • Tumor marker tests — Identifies whether certain chemicals made by cancer cells are present in your blood.

Dr. Ivan Bedoya speaks with a patient in a medical office.

Getting a Second Opinion

If you have a diagnosis of blood cancer, you want to make sure you have a team of experts by your side. We can provide a second opinion and present treatment options. 

Blood Cancer Treatments 

Treating blood cancer requires an individualized approach that takes a wide range of factors into account, including the type and stage of your cancer and whether it’s spread into other areas of your body.  

Treatment options may include: 

  • Chemotherapy Therapy that uses drugs injected through IV, taken by mouth or applied on the skin to attack and kill cancer cells. 

  • Immunotherapy — Medication therapy that stimulates your immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells. 

  • Radiation therapy — Therapy that uses high-energy radiation to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells.

  • Stem cell transplant — Treatment that replaces damaged or destroyed bone marrow cells with healthy cells produced by you or gathered from a donor. 

  • Surgery — A procedure to remove cancer while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible.

  • Watchful waiting —Treatment that involves closely monitoring the cancer but not giving treatment unless it progresses.

Blood Cancer Surveillance

Some blood cancers may not require immediate treatment. At St. Elizabeth, we keep a close eye on your condition for some cancers, such as leukemia. We perform tests and physical examinations regularly to monitor your symptoms and whether your cancer is progressing.

If you do require treatment, our team looks out for you long after treatment is done. We carefully monitor your condition for at least five years after your diagnosis and adjust your care if we see any indications that your cancer has returned or spread. Our comprehensive surveillance schedule meets your unique medical needs and can include:

  • Follow-up visits
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Routine testing
  • Specialist appointments
  • Support group recommendations

Certified oncology data specialists maintain and update our Cancer Registry. St. Elizabeth keeps a record of all the cancer cases we’ve diagnosed or treated since 2000. We use this database to gather vital information, stay on top of trends, measure the effectiveness of different treatments, and gauge cancer’s impact on our community.