The Clinic of Pediatric Oncology, Hematology and Immunology covers the complete spectrum of malignant tumors in childhood and adolescence as well as hematologic disorders, inborn or acquired immunodeficiency and rheumatoid disease. The Clinic offers specialized out patient ambulances for the distinct disease entities.
The last two decades have been characterized by a significant improvement of the diagnosis and treatment of children and adolescents with immunologic or neoplastic disorders. Thus, a long time survival is achieved in approximately 85% of children with cancer treated in Düsseldorf. This progress has been accomplished by the establishment of a broad panel of therapeutic modalities. Here, the bone marrow transplantation with hematopoietic stem cells from related or unrelated donors constitutes a special focus of clinical and scientific research. In children with malignant solid tumors, which respond incompletely to standard therapy or relapse, the cytostatic effect of chemotherapy is enhanced by simultaneous hyperthermia of the tumor region (thermochemotherapy). This strategy may facilitate complete tumor resection. In addition, in special situations dose intensified chemotehrapy followed by autologous stem cell support can be utilized. Other children receive immunologic treatment with tumor or leukemia vaccines, which may induce a specific immune response.
In addition to optimal medical care, children and adolescents with severe and life-threatening disorders require special psychological support in order to regain full health. For this purpose, a psychosocial center is integrated into the childrens hospital. Here, psychologists and teachers work closely together with the treating physicians of the pediatric oncology clinic. Special courses such as speech-, feeding- or behavioural training support the little children to be reintegrated into normal life after completion of their treatment. This work is stimulated by the experience gained through a scientific project that focuses on the quality of life of children and adolescents with cancer.
These achievements have only become possible through several donations from multiple organisations. These have allowed installing modern medical equipment in the Clinic of Pediatric Oncology, Haematology and Immunology and support of various scientific projects.
Research and education
The optimization of stem cell transplantation therapy is considered one of the most important advances in the clinical management of childhood leukemia. The role of thermochemotherapy on the treatment of refractory or recurrent abdominal and pelvic tumors has been evaluated in a clinical research project funded by the German Cancer Aid, and thermochemotherapy has now been integrated as a complimentary part of multimodal therapy. Currently, the research also focuses on the development of tumor vaccines and immune modulatory drugs that shall induce a specific immune response.
Furthermore, research groups of the Clinic of Pediatric Oncology analyze genetic aberrations in childhood leukemia and cancer, in particular in pediatric germ cell tumors. This research aims on identifying genetic patterns that correlate with clinical course and outcome and can therefore be utilized for treatment stratification.
Several working groups are focussing on gene therapeutic approaches to childhood cancer and inherited hematologic disorders such as Fanconi Anemia. Here, the somatic gene transfer into hematopoietic stem cells as well as the transfer of suicide genes into tumor cells are under evaluation.
In close cooperation with national and international centers, the therapy guidelines for children and adolescents with immunodeficiency or rheumatoid disorders are optimized.
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