Our dedicated pediatric hematologists and oncologists in the Yale Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Program provide care for children with all forms of cancer and blood diseases, including leukemia, malignant tumors and lymphomas, as well as sickle cell disease, hemophilia, coagulation abnormalities and platelet disorders. Our participation in the Children’s Oncology Group studies makes it possible to provide the most current and advanced treatment regimens to children with any form of cancer, common or rare.
Care of our patients and advances in treatment of pediatric cancer and blood diseases require a team approach of medical professionals as well as critical mass of basic and clinical researchers that can only be found at a place like Yale. Dr. Gary Kupfer, Clinical Program and Translational Working Group Leader has engineered the consolidation of pediatric oncology care under the Yale umbrella for all of Southern Connecticut. This has resulted in the transformation of the Yale Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Program from a small program into an internationally recognized research program poised to meet the clinical needs of all our patients as well as to advance the cause of pediatric cancer cures and prevention.
Clinical trials network: collaborating for better science
As part of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), members of the Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Program work cooperatively with other academic health centers to conduct large-scale investigations. Because childhood cancer is relatively rare, medical centers must work together to compile enough data to yield reliable science. Yale’s participation also assures that our patients have access to the newest and best treatments available. Efforts such as these over the last 60 years have yielded dramatic increases in cure rates of pediatric cancers, such as lymphocytic leukemia in which 80% of children are cured.
On the other hand, we still have a long way to go in many different tumors. Smilow Cancer Hospital treats 80-100 newly diagnosed pediatric cancer patients annually, and our goal is to place as many of these patients onto research protocols as is possible.
As we expand our clinical research activities, more and more of our focus will include efforts that are “homegrown” ideas. That is, members of the Program who have nurtured their own research interests are nearing the initial stage of adapting their findings to the direct benefit of patients. For example, Dr. Farzana Pashankar has pioneered the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary complications of sickle cell disease and has begun the first national clinical trial for therapy. Another example of our Yale generated-trials includes Dr. Nina Kadan-Lottick’s work on childhood cancer survivorship and neurocognitive outcomes after therapy. Our new neurocognitive testing program not only provides a needed service to our patients but also collects data on our patients in order to more fully understand the long term effects of what we do in order to cure our patients.
Support Services: working with patients and families
Understanding that children with cancer and blood disorders need more than medical care, we work withpatients and their families to help them meet their social, emotional, educational and behavioral needs. Our support services include:
- Routine psychosocial evaluations for newly diagnosed patients and their families
- Home visits for the most gravely ill or psychiatrically symptomatic children and their families
- A school integration program that includes counseling for families and children about their rights to have special services. We work with school districts to make appropriate accommodations for students returning to school, including providing special education services, if necessary
- Psychoeducation and neuropsychological testing for patients at risk for neurocognitive problems
- Support groups for siblings
- Support groups for parents
- End-of-life support team for children and families