Starship's Haematology/Oncology service provides assessment, diagnosis, treatment and long term follow-up for children and adolescents with cancer and non-malignant haematological conditions. The service also provides a comprehensive Haemopoietic Stem Cell (Bone Marrow Transplant and CORD) Transplant service for the North Island.
The service is multidisciplinary, which reflects the wide ranging impact a diagnosis of childhood cancer may have on a child and family. Nurses, doctors, social workers, play specialists, teachers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, Kaiatawhai (Maori Support Liasion), Pacific Island support workers, child psychologists and psychiatrists are all important and integral to our service.
The acute component of the service involves initial diagnosis and management, treatment of complications of therapy and assessment during treatment. The chronic component includes long term follow-up of children and young people both for recurrence and late effects of therapy. Palliative care caters for the physical and psychological needs of dying children and their families.
For children and families out of Auckland, a close relationship is maintained with their local hospital. Care is shared with these hospitals so as much as possible of their treatment and follow-up can be done locally. A liaison nurse ensures continuity and communication is maintained between the two.
The Paediatric Haematology/Oncology service also works alongside The Child Cancer Foundation
who provide support to children diagnosed with cancer and their families.
What is Haematology?
Haematology is the branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the blood and blood-forming organs. Such disorders may involve the:
- components of blood (cells and plasma)
- coagulation (blood clotting) process
- blood cell formation
- haemoglobin (oxygen-carrying protein on red blood cells) synthesis.
Doctors who specialise in haematology are called haematologists.
What is Oncology?
Oncology is the area of medicine involving cancer. An oncologist is a doctor specialising in the treatment of cancer either with chemotherapy (medical oncologist) or radiation (radiation oncologist). Other doctors are involved in the treatment of cancer such as surgeons, palliative care specialists (doctors who specialise in the treatment of symptoms from cancer that cannot be cured) and general physicians (who often are involved in the diagnosis of cancer).
What is Cancer?
Everyone’s body is made up of millions of cells, which normally grow, divide and are renewed in a balanced or programmed way. Sometimes this process is disrupted and the cells grow in an uncontrolled way – a solid group of these cells is called a tumour. Another word commonly used for tumour is growth and it can mean the same thing.
A tumour/growth can be benign (non cancerous growth and will not spread into different parts of the body) or malignant (cancerous growth that can also spread into different parts of the body). Tumours spread by cells travelling through the lymphatic system (the body’s cleaning system) to lymph nodes (often known as glands) or through the blood to other organs in the body. These cells can then multiply. If this happens the cancer is called metastatic. Cancer isn't contagious, so you can go on being close to family and friends.