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Developing a Center of Excellence for the Care of Children and Adolescents with Cancer

Pediatric Cancer Patients at Santa Marcelina Hospital

This project has been undertaken by INCTR Brasil with its partner, TUCCA in collaboration with the Santa Marcelina Hospital is Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Santa Marcelina Hospital serves a population of approximately 6 million people in one of the poorest areas of Sao Paulo.  The hospital sees more than 250 new cases of pediatric cancer each year.  Many patients come not only from this area, but from other states in Brazil – either where there are no facilities for treating pediatric cancer or where there are limitations in certain services or aspects of treatment that cannot be delivered by these institutions.

The major achievements made at this center of excellence include:

Establishment of a state of the art in-patient ward and out-patient department for children with cancer at the Santa Marcelina Hospital – both units are staffed by trained pediatric oncologists, residents, medical students, and pediatric oncology nurses.

Psychosocial support is provided in several ways:

  • Psychosocial support and counseling are provided to patients and their families beginning at the time of diagnosis and continuing throughout treatment.
  • A lodging-house has been built for the parents and patients who live far away from home with distances so great that it makes it difficult for them to go home in-between treatments.  
  • Daily transportation is provided for those who live locally, but who have difficulty accessing public transportation – either due to disability or who live long distances from points of access of public transportation.  
  • Transportation is also provided for patients who live in cities outlying Sao Paulo where cancer care is not available.  
  • Schooling is provided to children to ensure that they continue their education during treatment in classrooms at Santa Marcelina Hospital.  
  • A special kitchen where a locally famous chef teaches parents how to cook on a weekly basis has been set up.  This weekly session brings families together in a more relaxed atmosphere. 

Psychological support is also available for the staff to decrease burn-out.  

Palliative care services are available at the hospital itself and at a separate hospice that is outside of the hospital (see Palliative Care Program for more information about the palliative care program for children and adolescents).  

INCTR Brazil and TUCCA serve as a pathology reference center for other institutions throughout the country, initially for brain tumors, but this is to be expanded to other malignancies in the future. Molecular biology and immunohistochemistry studies have been introduced as part of the overall pathology program.

Locally relevant research on selected pediatric cancers is conducted.

For more information about this program, contact:

Children’s School at Santa Marcelina Hospital

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