September is National Childhood Cancer and Sickle Cell Awareness Month. This year’s observance comes as we continue to learn more about COVID-19 and its effects, and we are fortunate that our pediatric hematology-oncology patients have not been severely impacted. Two of our faculty members, Julie Wolfson, MD, MSHS and Emily Johnston, MD, MS are involved in a national research effort to collect information on pediatric cancer patients infected with the virus.
We live in a three-dimensional world, where many physicians and surgeons diagnose, treat and operate on patients using flat images, but that is not the case at Children’s of Alabama. Seven years ago, I helped open Children’s first 3-D laboratory, which provides cutting-edge technology through advanced visualization. We help our medical staff provide a clearer, less invasive and more realistic view of joints and organs. With this type of information, doctors can also give patient families a clearer vision and understanding of their child’s condition.
I am an Associate Professor of Pathology at UAB, and was surprised when, shortly after moving to the Birmingham are in 2013, I was diagnosed with leukemia. As a researcher of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, I had no idea how many advances had been made in the world of oncology. However, owing to the discovery of tyrosine kinase inhibitors, like Gleevec and Sprycel, and the outstanding medical care I received at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center and Kirklin Clinics, I was quickly cured. However, not all have been so lucky, and that is why I have now put my love of running to help put an end to blood cancer for others.
As the new division director of the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and Blood Marrow Transplantation program in the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Department of Pediatrics and Children’s of Alabama, my top priority is to build a well-rounded program; a program that is not only strong in its clinical mission – to provide the best treatment possible for children with cancer and blood diseases – but one that also has a strong research base, which includes clinical, basic and translational research.
You are likely aware of the outbreak of measles that has received a lot of attention in 2019. The CDC reports that over 1,000 cases of measles have been reported this year, which is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1992.
The dawn of a new year is often a time to reflect on what has been and what is to come. At the Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders, we are excited about the opportunities to improve patient care, and we never cease to be amazed by a community determined to change things for the better.
It’s been more than twenty years since the 1997 revisions to Evaluation and Management guidelines, which focus mainly on physical examination. The 2019 proposed changes provide practitioners a choice in the basis of documenting E/M visits; alleviate the burdens, and focus attention on alternatives that better reflect the current practice of medicine. The implementation of electronic medical records has allowed providers to document more information, yet repetitive templates, cloning, and other workflows have pushed the envelope on compliance in documenting the traditional elements of the visit.
The Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s of Alabama actively works toward the goal of a total cure through research and development of innovative therapies. More than a dozen prominent pediatric hematology, oncology and blood and bone marrow physician-scientists provide exceptional programs in patient care, education and research. Currently, the Center provides care or treatment for 90 percent of the pediatric hematology-oncology patients in the state.
Tumor Treating Fields or TTF as it is more commonly known is a recently developed method by which malignant brain tumor cells are prevented from reproducing. Shelby Baptist Medical Center and Generations Radiotherapy & Oncology PC has begun therapy on its first patient using this entirely new approach in the treatment of malignant brain tumors with the Optune TTF system.
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