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The Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program of BC

Hematology Dictionary
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B Lymphocyte
A type of white blood cell normally involved in the production of antibodies to combat infection.

Microscopic organisms, which cause many types of infectious disease, for example pneumonia. Patients have a reduced ability to fight infections following chemotherapy or bone marrow transplantation. This may mean that even normally harmless bacteria, for example those that are normally found on the skin, may cause serious illness.

A type of white blood cells, which is involved in allergic and inflammatory reactions. Normally present in low numbers in the blood.

An increase in the number of basophils in the blood.

Bence-Jones Protein
A characteristic protein found in the urine of most patients with multiple myeloma. It is derived from the antibodies produced by the cancerous myeloma cells and can be used to help in diagnosis of the disease and to monitor the effects of treatment.

Non-cancerous growths that may or may not need to be surgically removed.

A small sample of fresh tissue, for example lymph node or bone marrow, removed for laboratory analysis to establish or confirm an exact diagnosis of disease.

A group of drugs used in multiple myeloma, which do not affect the disease directly but reduce the bone damage and associated pain.

Blast Cells
Immature blood forming cells which normally represent up to 5% of the cells in the bone marrow. They are rarely seen in healthy blood. Acute leukemia is characterized by over-production of abnormal blast cells, which take over the bone marrow and often spill out into the blood stream.

Blast Crisis
Aggressive phase of chronic myeloid leukemia characterized by the production of large numbers of immature cells which may be either of the myeloid or lymphoid type. Clinically similar to acute leukemia and more difficult to treat than chronic phase disease.

Blood Cells
There are three main types of cells in the blood stream; the red cells, which carry oxygen, the white cells, which fight infections, and the PLATELETS, which help prevent bleeding. The correct balance between each cell type must be maintained. Natural chemicals called growth factors, which may be used in treatment, control production of blood cells.

Blood Count
A routine test requiring a small blood sample to estimate the number and types of cells circulating in the blood.

Bone Marrow
The tissue, which produces the blood cells and is found within the hollow cavities of many of the bones of the body. Bone marrow contains the stem cells from which all blood cells are derived. Examination of the bone marrow is an important part of the diagnosis of leukemia and the monitoring of treatment.

Bone Marrow Aspirate
A small volume of bone marrow removed under local or general anesthetic from either the hip bone (pelvis) or breast bone (sternum). The cells in the sample can then be examined under the microscope to identify any abnormality in the developing blood cells. A trephine biopsy may be taken at the same time.

Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT)
A procedure used in the treatment of a variety of blood disorders including leukemia, lymphoma and sometimes myeloma. The patient receives very high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy to treat the disease. This damages the bone marrow and makes the blood cell count fall. Replacement marrow is taken from a matched donor (allogeneic bone marrow transplant) or from the patient themselves (autologous bone marrow transplant) under a general anesthetic and returned to the patient through a vein (or central venous line) in a similar way to a blood transfusion. peripheral blood stem cells may be used instead, especially for autografts.

Burkitt's Lymphoma
A rapidly growing type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which usually affects the abdomen and requires immediate treatment.


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The information in this glossary is cited with permission from the Leukemia Research Foundation web site.

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