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Types of Blood Disorders

Blood Disorders Affecting White Blood Cells

Blood disorders that affect white blood cells include:

Lymphoma: A form of blood cancer that develops in the lymph system. In lymphoma, a white blood cell becomes malignant, multiplying and spreading abnormally. Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are the two major groups of lymphoma. Treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiation can extend life with lymphoma, and sometimes cure it.

Leukemia: A form of blood cancer in which a white blood cell becomes malignant and multiplies inside bone marrow. Leukemia may be acute (rapid and severe) or chronic (slowly progressing). Chemotherapy and/or stem cell transplantation (bone marrow transplant) can treat leukemia, and sometimes result in a cure.

Multiple myeloma: A blood cancer in which a white blood cell called a plasma cell becomes malignant. The plasma cells multiply and release damaging substances that eventually cause organ damage. Multiple myeloma has no cure, but stem cell transplant and/or chemotherapy can allow people to live for years with the condition.

Myelodysplastic syndrome: A family of blood cancers that affect the bone marrow. Myelodysplastic syndrome often progresses very slowly, but may suddenly transform into a severe leukemia. Treatments usually include blood transfusions and chemotherapy. Stem cell transplant can sometimes cure younger people with myelodysplastic syndrome.

Blood Disorders Affecting Platelets

Blood disorders that affect the platelets include:

Thrombocytopenia: A low number of platelets in the blood. Numerous conditions cause thrombocytopenia; most do not result in abnormal bleeding.

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura: A condition causing a persistently low number of platelets in the blood, due to an unknown cause. Usually there are no symptoms, yet abnormal bruising, small red spots on the skin (petechiae), or abnormal bleeding can result.

Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia: A low platelet count caused by a reaction against heparin, a blood thinner given to most people who are hospitalized to prevent blood clots.

Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura: A rare blood disorder causing small blood clots to form in blood vessels throughout the body. Platelets are used up in the process, causing a low platelet count.

Essential thrombocytosis (primary thrombocythemia): The body produces too many platelets, due to an unknown cause. The platelets do not work properly, resulting in excessive clotting, bleeding, or both.

Blood Disorders Affecting Blood Plasma

Blood disorders that affect blood plasma include:

Sepsis: An infection somewhere in the body spreads into the blood. Symptoms include fever, rapid breathing, respiratory failure, and low blood pressure.

Hemophilia: A genetic deficiency of certain proteins that help blood to clot. There are multiple forms of hemophilia, ranging in severity from mild to life-threatening.

von Willebrand disease: von Willebrand factor is a protein in blood that helps blood to clot. In von Willebrand disease, the body either produces too little of the protein, or produces a protein that doesn't work well. The condition is inherited, but most people with von Willebrand disease have no symptoms and don't know they have it. Some people with von Willebrand disease will have excessive bleeding after an injury or during surgery.

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