The dedicated pediatric hematologists and oncologists of the Yale Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Program provide comprehensive and compassionate 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 program utilizes a team approach to care, and is active in research that seeks to advance the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric cancer and blood diseases.
Cure rates continue to rise for children with cancer. At Yale, we are determined that more and more children will survive, and that they will thrive. We work to design treatments that cause less discomfort to patients in the short term and fewer serious complications in the long term.
Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital’s care team works with patients and their families to design individual treatment plans. In addition to an oncologist, our multidisciplinary team includes advanced practice providers, registered nurses, social workers, a psychologist, psychiatrist, neuropsychologist, nutritionist, and child life specialists, all who have expertise in the medical, social, emotional and educational needs of children and teens.
Understanding that children with cancer and blood disorders need more than medical care, we work with patients 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 and parents.
End-of-life support team for children and families.
HEROS Survivorship Program
The HEROS (Health, Education, Research & Outcomes for Survivors of Childhood Cancer) Survivorship program at Smilow prepares pediatric cancer patients to overcome the disease for a lifetime. It was the first in Connecticut to offer comprehensive guidance for adults and children who had survived pediatric cancer. In our program, which has become a national model, patients are monitored for recurrence of their original cancer, emergence of new cancer, and occurrence of long-term effects of therapy.
Because childhood cancer is relatively rare, medical centers must work together to compile enough data to yield reliable science. As part of the Children’s Oncology Group, experts in our program work cooperatively with other academic health centers to conduct large-scale investigations. 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.
Pediatric Sickle Cell Program
The Pediatric Sickle Cell Program is a comprehensive program dedicated to the care of children living with sickle cell disease. Each year about 2,000 children are born with sickle cell disease in the United States and it is most commonly found in African-Americans.
Our doctors and nurses work together to provide compassionate, patient-driven care to our patients with sickle cell disease. Patients often suffer from chronic pain and have complicated medical courses due to their sickle cell disease. In collaboration with the Pediatric Stem Cell Transplant Program, we offer bone marrow transplants to patients with sickle cell disease. Our goal is to successfully cure each child’s sickle cell disease through transplant when they are experiencing severe problems due to their sickle cell disease.
The Neuro-Oncology Clinic advances the effective treatment of brain tumors, which are among the most common type of childhood malignancy. Treatment of these types of tumors has lagged behind advances in the treatment of other childhood cancers. With this challenge in mind, our clinic at Smilow Cancer Hospital is the only one of its kind in Connecticut and includes a collaboration of pediatric oncologists, neurologists, endocrinologists, neurosurgeons, psychologists, and social workers to care for this complex group of patients.
Pediatric CAR T-Cell Therapy Program
The Pediatric CAR T-Cell Therapy Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital offers an innovative new immunotherapy treatment option to patients with certain blood cancers. Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy reprograms a patient’s own T-cells to target tumor antigens. CAR T-cell therapy has shown complete remission rates of 80 to 90% in patients with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and 40% in patients with aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas who have failed multiple prior lines of treatment.
Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program
The Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program cares for pediatric patients in need of bone marrow, peripheral blood stem cell and cord blood transplants.
Yale Hemostasis and Hemophilia Program
The Yale Hemostasis and Hemophilia Program, which became a federally funded comprehensive treatment center in 1986, is located within the Section of Hematology and Oncology in the Department of Pediatrics. The program has provided excellence in hemophilia care through a multidisciplinary approach, and is well established as a comprehensive treatment center for patients with bleeding disorders. An active thrombophilia clinical program has also been developed in recent years.
Although the administration of the program is based in the Department of Pediatrics, patients include both children and adults. Additionally, the program is a major referral center in Southwestern Connecticut for hemostasis patient evaluations. We follow patients with serious inherited coagulation disorders, individuals with von Willebrand disease, and those with qualitative platelet disorders. More than 100 new patients are seen in consultation annually for the diagnosis and management of disorders of hemostasis. The program is one of eight comprehensive hemophilia treatment centers in New England.
We participate in the CDC’s national hemophilia clinical research study—the universal data collection study that tracks longitudinal complications and quality of life in individuals with hemophilia and other bleeding disorders.
Adolescent Young Adult Oncology Program
The Adolescent Young Adult (AYA) Oncology Program seeks to improve quality of life and outcomes for AYAs affected by cancer through programming and educational services, forging social connections with other AYAs, providing access to age-appropriate clinical trials, and promoting awareness of AYA cancer in the hospital and in the broader community. Patients receive coordinated care, including fertility counseling, education, insurance, and social and emotional support.
Lauren Telesz/Smilow Teen Center
Lauren Telesz, a Yale University student, successfully battled Stage IV Hodgkin lymphoma at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital (YNHCH) while in high school. Intensive treatment and support from her care team and loved ones helped her beat cancer, but she saw a need for services targeted to people her age. The center serves teens and young adults, offering them a place to socialize with one another, friends, and family. It also includes video games, tablets, and a big screen for movies. The center supports the services of YNHCH’s AYA Oncology Program.