MSD Manual

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Overview of Blood Disorders

By

David J. Kuter

, MD, DPhil, Harvard Medical School

Last full review/revision Jun 2021| Content last modified Jun 2021
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Some blood disorders cause the number of cells in the blood to decrease:

Other blood disorders cause the numbers of blood cells to increase:

Blood flows to every cell in the body and is important to the health and function of all of the body's organs.

Blood cells are produced in the bone marrow, and many blood proteins are made in the liver or the blood cells themselves. Blood cells and blood proteins provide the following functions:

  • Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to every part of the body.

  • White blood cells and antibodies fight infections and cancers.

  • Platelets and blood clotting factors make bleeding stop or prevent bleeding from occurring.

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Test your knowledge

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a generally slow-growing blood disorder. In CLL, lymphocytes (small white blood cells found mostly in the lymph system) become cancerous. Gradually, these cancerous cells replace normal cells. More than three-quarters of people with CLL belong to one age group. Which of the following is that age group?
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