The Hematology Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital offers the most comprehensive services for the diagnosis and treatment of blood cancers in the region. Our services are designed to meet each patient’s physical, emotional, and psychological needs. Physicians within the program are organized into a multispecialty team that discusses the treatment plans for patients until consensus is reached on the best management course for each individual patient.
Causes of these cancers remain unknown but advances in treatment, some of which came from research at Yale Cancer Center, are increasing survival rates. Our researchers continue to work on current promising therapies and are able to offer treatment for all phases and stages of lymphoma, leukemia, and myeloma.
The Blood Cancers We're Fighting
Lymphoma is the most common blood cancer and the third most common cancer of childhood. The annual incidence of lymphomas has nearly doubled over the last 3 years reaching 62,000 Americans. However, there have been rapid advances in the treatment of this disease and 80% of patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma can be cured.
Leukemia is a malignant cancer of the bone marrow and blood. Approximately 35,000 patients are diagnosed with leukemia annually. The relative adult five-year survival rate has more than tripled in the past 45 years, qualified by age, gender, race and type of leukemia. The leukemia death rate for children 0-14 years of age in the United States has declined 60 % over the past three decades, due to modern treatment advances.
Myeloma is a disease of another blood cell, the plasma cell. Annually, approximately 16,000 new patients are diagnosed with myeloma. Overall survival in patients with myeloma has shown a modest improvement since the 1970s, however, the mortality rate for people of African descent is more than double the rate for Caucasians. Yale is a member of the Multiple Myeloma Consortium and is exploring novel treatment approaches to this cancer.
Yale has an expert hematopathology diagnostic team capable of pathologic review of lymph nodes and bone marrow with in-depth molecular and cytogenetic analysis. Every diagnostic technique is available at Yale including: bone marrow examination, bone imaging, M protein analysis, cytogenetics, immunophenotyping, and FISH and PCR analysis. Diagnostic analysis also includes relevant genetic testing and the identification of markers of prognosis. Yale Cancer Center maintains a tissue bank used for novel research studies in cancer treatment and prevention.
Standard Treatments and More
The overall aim of treatment is to bring about a complete remission. Treatment approaches for blood cancers may include chemotherapy, radiation oncology, stem cell or marrow transplantation, or immunotherapy. For maximum effectiveness, each patient receives an individual treatment plan, which includes standard care and/or clinical trials. Clinical Trials offering novel treatment options are available through Yale Cancer Center.
Yale Hematology has been a leader in the care of hematologic malignancies for several decades. Hematology plays an important role in the continuity of care of patients from inpatient induction therapy, through outpatient consolidation and maintenance chemotherapy, to long-term follow-up following completion of treatment. Yale's hematologists play a unique role as a regional resource for difficult and challenging cases, with a large number of referrals coming from other hematologists and oncologists in the physician community throughout Connecticut and New England. They work closely with the physicians in the Bone Marrow Transplant service, both to provide primary care to patients referred for transplant that are deemed to be better served by non-transplant modalities, and to provide rapid referral of those patients who are candidates for stem cell transplant.
Patient-centered Program Design
Patients at Smilow Cancer Hospital have the advantage of easy access to a disease-based multispecialty team with special interest and clinical expertise treating lymphoma, leukemia, and myeloma. Physicians in medical oncology, hematology, neuro-oncology, and radiation oncology meet regularly to discuss patient care and to develop a comprehensive treatment plan unique for each patient.
Patients and referring physicians can be assured of continuity of care. Referring physicians receive a summary of the transplant procedure and most patients return to their physician within two months of a stem cell transplant. Local referring physicians are welcome to and often participate in the Lymphoma Tumor Board to discuss the history and care of their patient with Yale physicians. Coordination continues with home care and supportive oncology, both integral parts of the treatment plan. Smilow Cancer Hospital has an extensive second opinion practice and collaborates with out-of-area physicians to coordinate patient care locally.
Additionally, patients have access to caregivers who help them cope with the physical, emotional and psychological issues related to these cancers. Advanced Practice Nurses and Social Workers assist with education, general information, and practical issues of travel and accommodation assistance.