Pediatrics - Hematology
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Boston Medical Center’s Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Program offers state-of-the-art evaluation, diagnosis, treatment of blood disorders. Genetic abnormalities of the blood, such as sickle cell disease, are a main focus of the program, but it also provides evaluation and ongoing care for children and adolescents with a variety of blood disorders and “orphan” illnesses. Physicians are also available for second opinions related to leukemia or other childhood cancers.
The program’s main focus is on children with inherited blood disorders, but it also provides evaluation and ongoing care for patients with a wide range of additional disorders affecting white blood cells, platelets and the bone marrow.
Children diagnosed with blood disorders are cared for by hematologists – physicians who have become specialists in blood and its related disease. At Boston Medical Center, some of the diseases and disorders treated include:
- Sickle cell anemia and related disorders
- Thalassemia, an amino acid imbalance
- Nutrition-related anemias
- Coagulation defects (bleeding and clotting disorders), such as hemophilia and von Willebrand disease
- Platelet disorders
- White cell disorders
- Histiocytic disease
- Autoimmune diseases affecting the blood
Young patients receive exceptional, compassionate care from an expert, extended team of physicians, a nurse clinical coordinator, a social worker and a clinical child life specialist, all key resources for patients and families.
Yawkey Center 617.414.4841
Patients with blood disorders receive consultation and treatment for a broad range of benign conditions, such as hemoglobinopathies (sickle cell anemia and thalassemia), hemochromatosis, bleeding and thrombotic disorders (von Willebrand's disease and hemophilia), hypercoagulable states, myeloproliferative disorders, myelodysplasia and anemia, and malignancies such as leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
Conditions We Treat
Sickle cell anemia is one of a group of disorders called sickle cell disease. It is a blood disorder where the red blood cells that carry oxygen to the body are curved like a sickle instead of round and soft like a disc. Because these curved cells are fragile and break down faster than a normal red blood cell, anemia can occur, meaning the red blood cell count falls below normal.
Thalassemia is a genetic blood disorder (passed down from parent to child) where the body does not make enough hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to cells throughout the body. Symptoms in children range from none at all in mild cases to jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes), slow growth, enlarged bones, heart palpitations and more in more severe cases.
Anemia happens when there are not enough red blood cells, the cells that carry oxygen, in the body. There are many causes, from illness like cancer to heavy menstrual bleeding. Symptoms can include fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath and more, and can go undetected at first but worsen as anemia progresses.
Platelets (thrombocytes) are a component of blood whose main job is to stop bleeding by clogging blood vessel injuries (hemostasis). If there are too many or too few platelets, issues with bleeding can occur. There are different platelet disorders with different symptoms.
White blood cells fight viral and bacterial infections in the body. Having too few white cells is called leukopenia, a condition that puts a person at risk for infections. Having too many white cells is called leukocytosis, and this means there may be an infection present. Both conditions may be caused by a number of diseases, and both are usually diagnosed while a doctor is performing blood tests related to another suspected condition.
Histiocytic disorders those that occur when the body produces too many white blood cells. This can lead to organ damage and can cause tumors to form. There are three main types of histiocytic diseases that are defined by the types of histiocytic cells involved.
An autoimmune disease occurs when the body’s immune (infection-fighting) system turns on itself, mistakenly attacking any number of systems and organs. There are many different autoimmune diseases, like Hashimoto’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms vary depending on the diagnosis; 80% of those diagnosed with an autoimmune disease are women.