UPMC Bridging the Great Health Divide: UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 5:52 PM EDT|Updated: 12 hours ago
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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - The Division of Pediatric Oncology at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology is the largest childhood cancer center in western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and northern West Virginia.

Cancer affects approximately one in every 700 children. When it comes to caring for those patients, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh ranks in the top 20 institutions in the country.

Dr. Marcus Malek is the Director of Surgical Oncology at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. He says that preparation is key to positive outcomes.

“I strongly believe that the day of surgery for a tumor, you need to go into that day with a complete plan of action of how you’re going to approach and remove that tumor safely. What you’re doing on the day of surgery is you’re executing that plan that you formed based on all the information you’ve gathered before surgery. The plan making is more than just the surgeon, it’s the surgeon, it’s the radiologist, it’s the oncologist, it’s the radiation oncologists. It’s a multidisciplinary team that we have here at children’s,” said Dr. Malek.

Dr. Malek says the experience of his team makes a difference for patients.

“When you’re doing surgery for cancer, it’s a balance between how aggressive to be to remove the tumor versus the risk that you’re taking by doing an aggressive surgery on a on a child. That’s where the expertise in exposure to these tumors, thinking about these tumors, seeing children with cancer on a regular basis is so critical because the difference between being too aggressive and not being aggressive enough can sometimes be a fine line. It’s the expertise and it’s the experience in dealing with those tumors that really dictates knowing exactly where you need to be and how to remove the tumor safely, that also gives the patient the best possible operation to beat their cancer, and that’s something that we pride ourselves here at UPMC and at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh,” said Dr. Malek.

Dr. Malek says that UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh has state-of-the-art equipment to make surgery easier on the patient.

“We have the most state of the art minimally invasive surgical equipment,” Dr. Malek said.

“We have tools and we have technology that can help you to find a tumor that you would not otherwise see with a camera, with your eyes or with your hands, and that can be either by the tumor giving off a fluorescent signal that we’re able to see with a special camera that we use or giving off a type of gamma ray that we can detect with a special handheld detector. MIBG is a is a specific type of radiation that goes directly to the tumor and will act on it directly without affecting a lot of the rest of your body. It’s a really powerful and really specific treatment that is only available in a few centers around the country and we happen to be one of the centers that can offer that here,” Dr. Malek continued.

Dr. Louis Rapkin is clinical director of pediatric oncology at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. He says that the hospital is viewed as a national leader in pediatric oncology care.

“We are one of 250 institutions that belong to our national cooperative trial group named the Children’s Oncology Group, and out of those 250 institutions, we consistently rank as the institution that enrolls the most patients on clinical trials in the country. That means that we have a very active service that works very hard to make sure that we are trying to achieve our national goal of improving the outcome of kids with cancer and we have the data to back that up,” Dr. Rapkin said.

Dr. Rapkin says that UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh provides a high-level of pediatric oncology care.

“Our phase one trial options are significant. For patients who have relapsed on their therapy for patients who are being treated for a rare cancer, that may not have a clear and defined therapy, we have more options than the vast majority of institutions in the United States. Medically speaking, we have treatments that are available that they would not be able to get except at, as I stated, 20 other centers around the country. That’s a huge benefit for coming here,” said Dr. Rapkin.

Dr. Malek agrees.

“What makes us really special here is we have a huge team of people whose who are always focused on making sure that we know the most up to date and best care possible treatments for all types of cancer. And that really speaks to our focus on making sure that we are always providing state of the art cutting edge, highest level possible care for all of our kids,” Dr. Malek said.

To learn more about Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Care at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, click here.