Why choose us for sickle cell disease care?
Sickle cell disease is an inherited red blood cell disorder that disrupts the flow of oxygen to tissue and organs. Experts at Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, deliver comprehensive care that helps provide a good quality of life for adults and children.
Our team includes fellowship-trained pediatric and adult blood disorder experts (hematologists) who deliver trusted therapies. We use leading care practices, including newly approved medications, to prevent and treat complications.
Sickle cell disease is one of the many blood disorders we treat. Read more about our blood disorder program.
What you need to know about sickle cell disease
- Your red blood cells contain hemoglobin, a protein that transports oxygen throughout the body. With sickle cell disease, genetic changes make the sickle hemoglobin molecules fragile. Red blood cells with sickle hemoglobin take on the curved shape of a sickle rather than staying round and flexible.
- Sickle-shaped cells break apart easily and may block the normal flow of blood through vessels. When sickled red blood cells cause a sudden blockage (vaso-occlusion), blood can’t flow normally.
- When blood does not flow, you may experience complications, including sudden pain attacks (crises) and serious breathing problems. These problems sometimes require immediate care in the hospital.
- You can receive inpatient services at University Hospital and clinic-based (outpatient) services at Mays Cancer Center. Coming to the cancer center and seeing a hematologist oncologist does not mean that you have cancer.
How to talk to your doctor about sickle cell disease
Living with sickle cell disease requires ongoing treatment. You’ll do some of your treatment at home. We stay in regular contact with you, developing and tailoring care plans to help you stay as healthy as possible. We encourage you to ask questions at any time.
Feel free to ask us about:
- Preventive services, including evaluations from lung doctors (pulmonologists) and immunizations that lower your risk of complications
- Genetic testing to determine the type of sickle cell disease or understand the risk of passing it on to an unborn child
- Tips for staying healthy, which may include resting when necessary and avoiding extreme (hot or cold) temperatures
- How to get help when your symptoms feel out of control, such as deciding whether to call our team or go to the hospital
- Support for families from social workers who help navigate family, school and financial issues
We invite you to bring family members or trusted friends with you to care for appointments for extra support.