September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Across the country, families, caregivers, charities and researchers observe this month to raise awareness of the approximately 15,000 children under the age of 15 who develop cancer each year in the United States.
Childhood cancers often fall into the following categories:
- Leukemia (a cancer of the blood or bone marrow)
- Lymphoma (a cancer involving the cells of the immune system)
- Neuroblastoma (a cancer that develops from nerve tissue)
- Osteosarcoma (bone tumor)
- Rhabdomyosarcoma (cancer of connective tissues)
- Other childhood solid tumors
- Brain tumors
Children are not typically diagnosed with common adult cancers (breast, lung, colon, etc.). Common signs that a child might have cancer include:
- Extreme exhaustion
- Swelling or lumps, especially in the abdomen or neck
- Blurred vision
- Problems with walking or balance
- Frequent infections
- Unusual bleeding
There have been many advances in treatment, including blood and marrow transplantation. For many children, a blood or marrow transplant may be a lifesaving procedure.
The UofL Physicians – Pediatric Cancer and Blood Diseases’ blood and marrow transplant program provides high quality, comprehensive care to infants, children, adolescents and young adults who undergo stem cell transplantation. The Addison Jo Blair Cancer Care Center at Kosair Children’s Hospital is home to Kentucky’s only Blood and Marrow Transplant Program specifically for children.
Children in the state of Kentucky and southern Indiana have access to national treatment protocols and cutting edge research in the field of stem cell transplantation. The UofL Physicians – Pediatric Cancer and Blood Diseases’ blood and marrow transplant program participates in research studies of the Children’s Oncology Group, the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium, the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network, as well as industry sponsored studies and University of Louisville transplant physician initiated research.We are also accredited by the Foundation for Accreditation of Hematopoietic Cell Therapy (FACT). Our program offers a full array of transplant services, as well as access to novel research studies, including allogeneic stem cell transplantation for recurrent solid tumors, adoptive cellular immunotherapy for viral infections after transplant, cord blood transplantation and cancer vaccines.
Stem cell transplants are performed for patients with leukemia, lymphoma, solid tumors (e.g. neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma) as well as primary immunodeficiency and metabolic disorders. We provide autologous stem cell transplants (using stem cells previously collected from the patient), and allogeneic transplants (donor is someone other than the patient) using stem cells from related donors, unrelated adult as well as cord blood donors.
Only about 20-30 percent of patients have an acceptable related donor. The National Marrow Donor Registry and all national and international cord blood banks are extensively searched to find matches for our patients who do not have a related donor. Since there are now more than 14 million donors in the NMDP, most patients are able to find a suitable match.
To learn more or make an appointment with UofL Physicians – Pediatric Cancer and Blood Diseases’ blood and marrow transplant program, please call (502) 588-3600.