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Department of Pediatrics

Department of Pediatrics

Pediatric Hematology-Oncology

 The Section of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology cares for infants, children, and adolescents diagnosed with blood disorders and malignant diseases. The Section is dedicated to addressing all issues involved in caring for these patients in a comprehensive manner.

The primary nonmalignant disorders include patients with Sickle Cell Anemia, Thalassemia, bleeding and other blood clotting diseases, and patients with platelet dysfunctions. The Pediatric Comprehensive Hemoglobinopathy Clinic is a State of California center-designated program and provides expertise for children with red blood cell disorders. Currently, the clinic serves 150 children and adolescents from the Sacramento and Northern California areas. While most of these children have been diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia, approximately 40 have thalassemia disorders, which is particularly common amongst the Southeast Asian population. Children with blood clotting disorders are cared for in the state center-designated Hemophilia Program.  The program is dedicated to the evaluation and care of children and adolescents, as well as clinical research related to all aspects of hemophilia. The Center currently serves about 300 patients.

The Section also cares for all forms of childhood cancer including leukemia, bone and muscle tumors, kidney tumors, and brain tumors. Approximately 80 new cases per year are referred to the Section for evaluation, diagnosis and treatment. These patients come primarily from California, Oregon and Nevada. Unlike other areas of medicine, most of the children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer are treated on nationally-sponsored studies. The Section is committed to providing improved care for these children through participation in the Children's Oncology Group, a consortium of about 250 medical centers throughout the world. Uniform treatment plans agreed upon by these investigators allow efficient data collection, treatment implementation and promulgation of results involved in all types of childhood malignancies. The Section enrolls about 20 to 25 patients per year on these group protocols. At present, 50 open treatment protocols are available for patients diagnosed with most forms of childhood cancer.

Care for children and adolescents with life threatening diseases is multi-disciplinary. The Section takes advantage of the full range other subspecialists at the University, including social workers, play therapists and nursing specialties to provide care not only for the primary disease process, but also for parents, siblings, and families of the patient.

Much of the care for patients in the section is delivered in the outpatient setting. This is accomplished in the following clinics: pediatric oncology, pediatric hematology, pediatric hemophilia, and pediatric stem cell transplant (in collaboration with Stanford University). A special treatment clinic is used to sedate children who must undergo painful procedures.

Current translational research efforts in the Section include: 1) Defining the effects of certain natural compounds on leukemia cells, 2) Determining the relationship of Vitamin B6 on several outcome variables in children with Sickle Cell Anemia, and 3) Epidemiology of liver tumors and obesity in children treated for leukemia.

Drs. Balagtas, Ducore, Pawar and Chung serve as the pediatric hematology/oncology physicians for the University. Other support staff include 7 nurse coordinators, 2 data managers, 1 hemophilia case coordinator, and 2 social workers.