What’s the Difference Between Oncology and Hematology?

Here’s a frequently asked question about the Oncology San Antonio practice: “My Primary Care Provider (PCP) referred me to your practice for a hematology consult. Should I be worried that I may have cancer?”

Oncology San Antonio is not just the premier cancer care network in San Antonio, but also a cutting-edge hematology center. Here are a few things to know before your first hematology appointment.

  1. What is the difference between hematology and oncology?
    A hematologist is a physician trained in Internal Medicine, who has completed additional years of training, called a fellowship, to diagnose, treat, and prevent blood disorders. Examples of blood disorders include cancerous and non-cancerous diseases that can affect the individual components of blood including white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets, as well as the organs which produce them (bone marrow and spleen). There is often overlap between hematology and oncology (the study of cancer). Our physicians have completed a combined fellowship in both hematology and oncology.
  2. Does a referral to a hematologist mean I have cancer?
    No. There are many reasons why your primary care provider may refer you to see a hematologist/oncologist. Some of the most common problems that we see are blood cell counts that are too high or too low. This can be caused by many medical conditions that are unrelated to cancer.
  3. What should I expect for my first visit to the office?
    You will receive an information packet in the mail about 1-2 weeks before your appointment with our contact numbers, directions to our location, and all the New Patient forms that will need to be completed before your arrival. The more information we can gather about your health history including a complete list of all medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, the better we can create a personalized plan of care for you.
  4. Will I need to fast for my appointment?
    No. Please make sure you are well hydrated, and we encourage you to eat within a few hours of your appointment. Please also take all your normal medications that day.
    Our goal is to always provide our patients with the information and support needed to guide their healthcare choices.

  • For more information about hematology, please visit the American Society of Hematology.