The haematological cancers account for only about 5 per cent of malignancies but cytotoxic therapy plays a major part in their management and has brought about a dramatic improvement in the prognosis for many of these tumours, offering the possibility of cure in a significant number of patients. The haematological cancers are a very diverse group of diseases, the principal members of which are the leukaemias and lymphomas. The leukaemias are characterised by the production of excessive numbers of white blood cells and many different forms of the disease exist. These are classified into four major groups: acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, acute myeloid leukaemia, chronic myeloid leukaemia and chronic lymphoid leukaemia. The lymphomas are primary cancers of the lymphoreticular system: they usually arise in lymph nodes but may originate in any organ containing lymphoid tissue. The disease may remain localised for a variable period of time but, if untreated, all lymphomas will become disseminated and ultimately fatal. The lymphomas are classified under two headings: Hodgkin’s disease and the non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas. There are a number of other haematological cancers apart from the leukaemias and lymphomas, the two commonest’ of which are multiple myeloma and polycythaemia vera and these will also be considered in this chapter.
KeywordsInterferon Doxorubicin Methotrexate Melphalan Cyclophosphamide
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