Hematologist/oncologists combine training in two separate medical specialties to provide comprehensive care for blood-related disorders and all types of cancer.

Watch an Overview of Hematology

About Hematology / Oncology

Hematology/oncology is a medical specialty focused on the diagnosis and treatment of patients suffering from blood disorders and cancerous diseases, or both. Although hematology (blood) and oncology (cancer) are two separate medical subspecialties of internal medicine, the two areas often overlap due to the fact that many cancers affect the blood, and vice versa. For this reason many physicians receive training and expertise in both areas and a combined medical field has developed. Due to the complexity of these types of disorders, hematologist / oncologists are often consulted by other physicians and specialists.

By completing training in both areas of medicine, hematologist/oncologists are uniquely situated to provide care for both blood-related disorders and malignant diseases (cancers), as well as the types of cancer that affect the blood. These include lymphoma, myeloma and leukemia, among others. When providing care for these and other diseases, hematologist / oncologists often serve as part of a multidisciplinary medical team.

Other specialists that may work in conjunction with hematologist/oncologists include physicians from areas such as nuclear medicine, radiology, psychiatry, infectious disease and immunology, among others.

Hematology / Oncology Education & Training

Physicians trained in hematology/oncology have completed a demanding and rigorous education path that includes both residency and fellowship training. After earning a bachelor’s degree, the student must complete four years of medical school to earn an MD or DO degree. Following graduation from medical school, the usual path taken by a hematologist/oncologist is to complete a three year residency program in internal medicine; physicians who wish to work in pediatric hematology/oncology may pursue residency training in pediatrics.

Following completion of the requisite residency program, the physician must complete specialized fellowship training in hematology/oncology, which generally lasts three years. During fellowship training, the physician is exposed to the diagnostic and treatment techniques found in both hematology and oncology. During the first two years the physician is exposed to clinical hematology and oncology care, treating patients suffering from various types of cancer. The final year of fellowship training is usually devoted to research in the field, which may consist of either basic research or training in clinical research; during this final year, the physician has the opportunity to specialize in a certain area of hematology/oncology and gain valuable expertise. Hematologist oncologists may pursue board certification from the American Board of Internal Medicine or, when applicable, the American Board of Pediatrics.