New name reflects ongoing mission for pediatric hem-onc center
Published on Thursday, March 12, 2020
By: Annie Oeth, firstname.lastname@example.org
What’s been known for decades as the Children’s Cancer Center has a new name that reflects its continuing mission of caring for children with cancer and blood disorders at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
The new name, Children’s of Mississippi Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, was approved by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning earlier this year.
Dr. Anderson Collier, director of the center, said the name more accurately describes the care provided.
“We’ve had situations where a patient is referred to our center for hematology, and when the parents found out their children were going to the Children’s Cancer Center, they panicked,” said Collier, professor of pediatric hematology and oncology, director of pediatric hematology and oncology and the center. “The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders also highlights an important part of Children’s of Mississippi care, hematology.”
The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders includes one of the largest pediatric clinics for sickle cell disease in the country as well as care for other disorders including iron deficiency anemia, and disorders involving platelets, clotting or bleeding disorders.
“Our sickle cell clinic treats children from around the state, so our program is one of the largest in the country in terms of the number of patients we see,” said Dr. Melissa McNaull, professor of pediatric hematology/oncology. “Mississippi has the highest percentage of sickle cell disease per capita in the country.”
The Children’s Cancer Center opened in 1991 after the Junior League of Jackson funded its $2 million construction. The center was designed to accommodate upward expansion, and the center became the footprint for Batson Children’s Hospital, which opened in 1997.
About 140 children 18 and younger are diagnosed with cancer in Mississippi each year, or about one diagnosis every two and a half days.
Experts at the center provide treatment for cancers and blood disorders ranging from common to complex and rare. Conditions treated include sickle cell disease, hemophilia, clotting disorders, anemia, disorders of white blood cells, disorders of platelets, leukemia, bone cancer, brain and central nervous system cancers, germ cell tumors, liver cancer, lymphoma, Langerhans cell histiocytosis, neuroblastoma, retinoblastoma, soft tissue cancers and kidney cancer.
Collier said the center is working with the latest in targeted cancer treatments.
“We are learning about the cellular mechanisms that allow certain types of cancer to grow and develop and are designing medications to target those mechanisms,” he said. “These targeted therapies are much more specific to the cancer and potentially have fewer side effects. We are also currently using and studying additional immunotherapies. These therapies use a person’s own immune system to attack the cancer cells. Both of these areas of research are incredibly exciting and promising for treatment of childhood cancer.”
The center usually has 30 to 50 cancer trials open and up to 12 trials for sickle cell disease.
An inherited condition in which there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen throughout the body, sickle cell disease affects about 100,000 Americans and about one out of every 365 African-American births. In Mississippi, about 80 babies a year are born with the disorder.
The condition is named for sickle- or crescent-shaped red blood cells, which can get stuck in small blood vessels. This can slow or block blood flow and oxygen to parts of the body, causing pain crises and organ damage.
The Medical Center also offers bone marrow transplants, including haploidentical or “half-match” transplants, to cure the disorder in patients who have frequent or severe pain crises or other complications such as strokes.
“We are evaluating other children and educating families about all of the curative options for sickle cell disease,” said Dr. Dereck Davis, assistant professor of pediatric hematology/oncology.
As part of the state’s only children’s hospital, the Children’s of Mississippi Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders offers unique support services designed to help children and their families cope with illness and treatment.
Child Life specialists help children cope with cancer and blood disorders through therapeutic play, and educators within the children’s hospital help patients stay current with their school districts at home while they’re getting well in the hospital or at home. Counseling, pastoral services and the skills of social workers are available to assist patients and their families.
“Our mission as the Children’s of Mississippi Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders is to bring world-class care close to home for our patients and their families,” said Collier. “Our new name is a reflection of what we offer.”