Pediatric hematologists in Denver

Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children (RMHC) is committed to providing advanced treatment for children with pediatric blood disorders, blood cancers and related conditions. Our compassionate team of pediatric hematologists and oncologists ensures you and your child have access to the latest techniques and treatments, such as bone marrow transplant services, while in the comfort of our family-friendly facility.

Our pediatric hematology specialists work closely with your child and entire family to minimize the potential for bleeding, blood clots and other complications, so your child can live a happy, full life.

Find a pediatric hematologist

Blood disorders we treat

RMHC’s pediatric hematologists treat a wide range of blood disorders in children, including:

  • Alpha thalassemia
  • Anemia
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Beta thalassemia (Cooley’s anemia)
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Megaloblastic (pernicious) anemia
  • Thalassemia

Blood disorder symptoms

Blood disorder symptoms will vary depending on what type of blood disorder is present. However, some common signs of blood disorders in children include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Easy bruising
  • Frequent infections
  • Wounds that do not heal quickly
  • Difficulty controlling bleeding

Diagnosing pediatric blood disorders

Using a physical exam, your child’s medical history and diagnostic blood disorder tests, our pediatric hematologists can determine if a blood disorder or blood cancer is present. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, our team develops a customized treatment plan based on your child’s specific needs.

Treating pediatric blood disorders

Once a blood disorder diagnosis has been made, our pediatric hematology specialists will create a treatment plan based on your child’s condition, age, extent of symptoms and your preferences. Your child’s blood disorder treatment plan may include one or more of the following:

  • Antibiotics (if an infection is causing symptoms)
  • Blood transfusions
  • Bone marrow transplant (for aplastic anemia)
  • Catheters (used to make the involved vessels wider)
  • Diet and lifestyle modifications
  • Intravenous gamma globulin (IVGG, a protein containing many antibodies which also slows the destruction of platelets)
  • Medications and/or discontinuing medications that may be causing the problem
  • Plateletpheresis (procedure removing extra platelets from the blood)
  • Phlebotomy (procedure removing blood from the body)
  • Rh immune globulin (medication which helps prevent the spleen from destroying platelets)
  • Steroids
  • Surgical removal of the spleen or gallbladder
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements

Pediatric blood cancers we treat

Hearing that your child has blood cancer can be overwhelming, but our multidisciplinary cancer care team will be with you and your child through every step of diagnosis, treatment, recovery and survivorship. We also offer comprehensive cancer support in the comfort of our family-friendly facility.

Our pediatric blood cancer specialists treat a wide variety of childhood blood cancers, including:

Childhood leukemia

Leukemia is a cancer of the white blood cells, but leukemia can begin in other blood types. The most common type of leukemia is acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). This type of leukemia is diagnosed in children between two and four years old and begins in the white blood cells in the bone marrow.

There are two other types of leukemia in children, which are acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and hybrid or mixed lineage leukemia.

Leukemia can be either fast-growing (acute) or slow-growing (chronic). Nearly all leukemias found in children are acute. Chronic leukemias are far more commonly found in adults.

Causes of childhood leukemia

According to the American Cancer Society, the exact cause of leukemia in children and toddlers is unknown. Cancer that occurs in children is because of DNA changes or cell mutations.

DNA changes inside healthy bone marrow cause those cells to become leukemia cells. The DNA from one chromosome breaks off and attaches itself to a different chromosome, which leads to leukemia.

Symptoms and signs of leukemia in a child

Symptoms of leukemia in children can be the result of low red blood cell counts, low child blood cell counts or low blood platelet counts. Signs of leukemia include:

  • Bruising easily or bleeding
  • Tiredness, weakness or fatigue
  • Fever, night sweats or feeling cold
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Stomach, bone or joint pain
  • Pain below the ribs
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath

Other symptoms of leukemia in toddlers include lumps in the neck, underarms, stomach or groin and swelling of the liver or spleen.

Many of these symptoms in children could be caused by something other than leukemia, such as an infection. It is important to visit a doctor if your child is displaying any of these symptoms, so a blood test can be performed to diagnose or rule out leukemia.

Pediatric leukemia treatments

For children with leukemia, treatment occurs in two stages. First, a child undergoes initial treatment with anticancer drugs in order to kill the leukemia cells, called remission induction therapy. The second stage of treatment involves maintenance therapy, which is used to kill any remaining leukemia cells. If all leukemia cells are not removed, the cells left behind could grow and cause a relapse of cancer.

There are several treatment options for children with leukemia:

  • Chemotherapy — The use of drugs to kill cancer cells, administered either by pill, injection or through a catheter.
  • Radiation — Radiation therapy involves the use of radiation to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells. External radiation therapy is used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This type of treatment is typically used for leukemia that has potentially spread to the brain or spinal cord.
  • Stem cell transplant with chemotherapy — This type of treatment is often used after ALL was previously treated, but has returned. A stem cell transplant involves removing immature blood cells from the blood or bone marrow of the patient or a donor. Then, stem cells are infused via the blood to restore blood cells.

Childhood leukemia survival rate

Childhood leukemia statistics are not meant to alarm or worry parents or family members with a toddler who has been diagnosed with leukemia. Per the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for children with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is 85 percent.

Pediatric lymphoma

RMHC is equipped with highly trained physicians who have access to the most advanced techniques to diagnose and treat pediatric lymphoma.

The difference between Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are cancers of the immune system, specifically of the lymphatic system. Hodgkin’s lymphoma causes white blood cells to grow and multiply in the lymph tissues throughout the body. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma varies and depends on the size and the shape and growth pattern of the cancer cells. Additionally, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas found in children differ greatly from the type found in adults.

There are three main conditions that help physicians classify Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma:

  • If the abnormal Reed-Sternberg cell is not present, the cancer is classified as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. There are more than 60 different types of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
  • Hodgkin's lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are treated differently. This is why it is important to know what type of cancer cells appear under a microscope.
  • According to the American Cancer Society, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma accounts for about five percent of all childhood cancers, while Hodgkin's lymphoma accounts for roughly three percent.

Symptoms of lymphoma

The symptoms of Hodgkin's lymphoma can include the following:

  • Feeling weak or extreme fatigue
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Fever or night sweats
  • Swollen (but not painful) lymph nodes in the neck, chest, armpit or groin
  • Itchy skin

The signs of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are:

  • Fatigue
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Weight loss
  • Fever or night sweats
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Trouble breathing
  • Swollen abdomen
  • In boys, a non-painful lump or swelling of the testicles

Pediatric lymphoma treatment

For children with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, chemotherapy is the main type of treatment. Chemotherapy kills the cancer cells and stops them from growing or dividing. Radiation therapy is rarely used for non-Hodgkin's lymphomas that occur in children.

For child and teen patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma, chemotherapy is also the most common type of treatment. Depending on the patient, radiation therapy is sometimes used to treat Hodgkin's lymphoma. Radiation therapy can be effective for Hodgkin's lymphoma that has not spread, however, radiation can potentially disrupt the growth of bones and soft tissues in young children. For this reason and others, radiation is becoming a less common type of treatment for children with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Oncology resources

Meet our hematology/oncology doctors