The Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center brings together two internationally known institutions that have provided comprehensive care for pediatric oncology and hematology patients since 1947. The Harvard Medical School affiliates share a clinical staff that delivers inpatient care at Boston Children’s Hospital and outpatient care at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Jimmy Fund Clinic. Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s brings the results of its pioneering research and clinical trials to patients’ bedsides through five clinical centers: the Blood Disorders Center, the Brain Tumor Center, the Hematologic Malignancies Center, the Solid Tumors Center, and the Stem Cell Transplant Center.
Each year in the United States, about 10,000 to 12,000 children are diagnosed with cancer, compared with 1.5 million adults. While childhood cancer is a potentially life-threatening condition that requires intensive treatment, it is no longer the near-certain death sentence it was a few short decades ago. Today most pediatric cancers are treatable and many forms are curable, using a combination of treatments that may include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
Overall, three-quarters of U.S. children with cancer survive. Where only 30 percent of U.S. children with leukemia survived 40 years ago, today 90 percent are cured. Similarly, two-thirds of children with pediatric osteosarcoma, a cancer of the bone, are now cured, as are more than 90% with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and more than two-thirds with brain tumors.
Much of the research that led to this turnaround occurred at Boston Children’s and Dana-Farber. Working in a basement laboratory at Boston Children’s in the 1940s, Sidney Farber, M.D., (1903-1973) made breakthrough discoveries about chemotherapy that not only revolutionized the treatment of leukemia and other pediatric cancers but also transformed the treatment of adult cancers.
Non-malignant blood disorders include sickle cell disease, hemophilia, anemia and numerous other conditions ranging from red and white cell disorders to autoimmune blood cell disorders and blood marrow failure syndromes. Each year, approximately one of every 5,000 boys born in the United States each year has hemophilia, and approximately one in 500 black or African-American babies born annually in the U.S. has sickle cell disease. Rare, often debilitating and/or life-threatening blood disorders affect small numbers of children. Treatment includes transfusions and stem cell transplants.
Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s maintains its leadership position through its team-centered approach to the treatment of pediatric cancers and blood disorders and its ground-breaking research in chemotherapy, gene therapy and gene expression, immunotherapy, and other critical areas at the frontiers of medicine.