Blood Cancer Care at UPMC CancerCenter

Cancer can affect any part of the body, including blood cells. Doctors diagnose about 150,000 people with blood cancer each year in the United States.

Many subtypes of blood-based cancers exist, so a precise diagnosis is crucial to ensure the best approach to treatment.

The blood cancer experts at UPMC CancerCenter take a multidisciplinary approach to diagnosis and treatment, which may include:

We also offer specialized outpatient care through the Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers. We designed this state-of-the-art center with patient comfort in mind.

What Is Blood Cancer?

Blood cancer often begins in the bone marrow.

Bone marrow contains stem cells that form into:

  • Red blood cells.
  • White blood cells.
  • Platelets.

Cancer begins with uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. This growth prevents blood cells from carrying out their normal functions, like fighting infections or clotting.

Cancer can affect any component of the blood


is the liquid component of blood. It carries many proteins and other substances our bodies need.


are fragments of cells that give blood the ability to clot. This stickiness helps to keep blood moving by sealing holes (from cuts or bruises) that break the blood vessels.

Red blood cells

carry oxygen from the lungs to every part of the body. They also carry carbon dioxide back to the lungs for removal.

White blood cells 

lymphocytes — a subtype of white blood cells — defend against invading organisms that cause disease.

A vital part of the immune system, two types of lymphocytes exist:

  • B lymphocytes mature into plasma cells, which then make antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that attach to infectious organisms. The immune system uses antibodies to locate and destroy the invaders.
  • T lymphocytes are actually a diverse group of cells, each with its own job. Some T cells work to destroy invading organisms, and some give support to other immune system cells.

Blood Cancer Symptoms and Signs

Blood cancers differ in:

  • The types of cells they affect.
  • How quickly they develop.
  • How far into the body they spread.

Although each type of blood cancer is different, they can share some common symptoms and signs.

Some people may not have any symptoms until the disease is advanced. Or, they may mistake symptoms for a severe cold or flu.

Some common blood cancer symptoms include:

  • Coughing or chest pain
  • Fever or chills
  • Frequent infections
  • Itchy skin or rash
  • Loss of appetite or nausea
  • Night sweats
  • Persistent weakness and fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen, painless lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin

Why Choose UPMC for Blood Cancer Care?

At UPMC CancerCenter, our:

  • Highly skilled doctors and pathologists can diagnose blood diseases carefully and quickly.
  • Medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists work closely with transplant specialists to treat you all the way through recovery.
  • Support services for blood cancer patients and families can help with the physical and emotional burdens of cancer treatment and beyond.

Contact us about blood cancer care

Contact UPMC CancerCenter about blood cancer care by calling 412-647-2811.

To reach the Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers at UPMC CancerCenter, call 412-864-6600.

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Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers

The Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers offers personalized outpatient treatment for complex hematologic malignancies. The patient-friendly center also provides easier access to the latest blood cancer therapies and clinical trials.

Learn about the Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers.
doctor explaining to patient

Types of Blood Cancer

Leukemia and lymphoma are the most well known blood cancers, affecting the white blood cells and the lymphatic system, respectively. Other blood cancers include myeloma, MDS and MPD.

Read about the types of blood cancer.
breast cancer screening exam callout

Blood Cancer Screenings and Exams

Some common tests for blood cancers include blood tests, imaging tests, bone marrow biopsies, and spinal taps.

Read more about blood cancer screenings.
Female doctor talking with female patient

Treatments for Blood Cancer

Because there are different types of blood cancers and disorders, treatments will vary. Some blood cancer treatment options include biologic therapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, cord blood transplant, and stem cell transplant.

Read more about blood cancer treatments.