At Smilow Cancer Hospital, we appreciate that blood cancers are a collection of several distinct types of cancers, and each patient is different. Improved understanding of the biology of each patient's blood cancer will allow us to optimize specific therapies for each patient. In the future, we hope to extend this further, to prevent rather than treat blood cancers depending on individual risk.

About Our Hematology Program

Physicians and scientists are still trying to grasp the causes behind myeloma, leukemia, and lymphoma, the three major groups of blood cancers. But there is positive news: Advances in cancer care are increasing survival rates, leading to better blood cancer treatments and curing an increasing number of patients with these blood diseases. The goal of physicians at Smilow Cancer Hospital is to cure blood cancers, or at least manage them as chronic conditions, depending on the stage and type of a patient's blood cancer. Highly specialized physicians with international reputations lead disease- based teams made up of specially trained data managers, research nurses, clinical nurses and care coordinators, providing each patient with highly individualized care.

Why Smilow Cancer Hospital for Hematology

At Smilow Cancer Hospital, we have 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 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 blood cancer treatment and prevention.

Our physicians are finding particular success treating patients with various blood cancer types such as lymphoma, the most common blood cancer, now curing up to 80 percent of patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Dramatic advances have also been made in therapy for certain forms of leukemia, for example, with the development of molecularly targeted therapies such as Gleevec® for a leukemia termed chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). The outlook for patients with myeloma, another blood cancer, has also significantly improved over the last decade, with the introduction of new therapies such as thalidomide and bortezomib.

Other unique aspects of hematology treatment at Smilow Cancer Hospital include:

Our patients benefit from specialized resources such as the state-of-the-art nuclear imaging technology, one of the largest total skin electron beam radiation oncology program worldwide, 3D conformal radiotherapy, intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and Gamma Knife services

There are a variety of lymphoma treatment options available for cutaneous T and B-cell lymphoma and many patients are able to live relatively normal lives during and following therapy. Early diagnosis, cutting-edge lymphoma treatment, and novel therapies provide a significant benefit to patients with cutaneous lymphomas at Yale Cancer Center and throughout the world.

Yale Cancer Center continues to make innovative advances in the diagnosis and treatment of cutaneous lymphoma through the focused efforts of a ground-breaking clinical research team. Their multispecialty approach to the treatment of patients with cutaneous lymphomas has led to the development of FDA approved lymphoma treatments that are now the standard of care worldwide.

Several Smilow physicians are also experts in stem cell transplantation, which is part of standard blood cancer therapy for selected patients with myeloma, leukemia and lymphoma. For example, Smilow is one of a handful of cancer hospitals in the country to perform haploidentical transplants, which allow patients to be transplanted with mismatched or half-matched donor stem cells from a family member with whom they have only one set of genes in common.

Yale New Haven Hospital is a member of the National Marrow Donor Program and is accredited as a major transplant center by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy transplant accreditation committee.

In an effort to destroy abnormal cancerous cells in leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma, stem cell transplants are often used. Together with Yale Cancer Center, we are the only center in Connecticut offering allogeneic transplant, a transplant using compatible donor stem cells. The number of allogeneic transplants performed annually at Smilow Cancer Hospital has doubled in the last four years.

Learn more about stem cell

Smilow Cancer Hospital offers a comprehensive program to meet the needs of patients with sickle cell anemia, also known as sickle cell disease. This program provides comprehensive services to meet the needs of patients and families living in the Greater New Haven area. The Sickle Cell Program's objectives are to educate the community, patients, families and health care providers about sickle cell disease, and reduce the number of hospitalizations and emergency room visits. The program offers high-risk adults the opportunity to be seen in the hematology clinic.

Patients at Smilow Cancer Hospital have easy access to a disease-based multispecialty team with special interest and clinical expertise treating myeloma, leukemia and lymphoma. Physicians in medical oncology, hematology, neuro-oncology, and radiation oncology meet regularly to discuss each patient's 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 Smilow 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, blood cancer 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.

Learn more about the Yale Hematology Program