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Children's Hospital, Lemieux charities to team on youth lymphoma center

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By Corinne Kennedy
Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 11:09 p.m.
 

The Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation and the Mario Lemieux Foundation on Wednesday plan to announce the establishment of a youth lymphoma center at Children's Hospital.

The Mario Lemieux Lymphoma Center for Children and Young Adults would focus on rare and difficult-to-treat forms of childhood lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, including lymph nodes, the spleen and bone marrow. It would emphasize clinical care for patients, as well as laboratory and clinical research, according to a statement posted on Tuesday on the Lemieux foundation's website.

The Lemieux foundation, which provides funding for cancer research and playrooms for children in hospital waiting rooms, would contribute $2.5 million to the project, according to the statement.

The foundation later removed the statement and declined to comment until a news conference scheduled for Wednesday.

The Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation, the fundraising arm of Children's Hospital, also declined to comment.

Scheduled to attend are Lemieux, former Penguins center and founder of the Mario Lemieux Foundation; Tom Grealish, president of the Lemieux foundation; Dr. Linda McAllister-Lucas, chief of hematology and oncology at Children's, and Greg Barrett, president of the Children's Hospital foundation.

The center would aim to provide increased access to care, research studies and new treatments for children with all forms of lymphoma. The center would treat lymphoma patients in their teens and 20s, not just children, and the Lemieux foundation hopes the center will draw childhood and adolescent lymphoma patients from around the world, according to the statement.

“The center is extremely unique and, to my knowledge, is the first of its kind,” said Gina Russo, senior director of patient access and education with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, based in New York.

As an extension of Children's Hospital, the center would be able to recruit clinical and research experts who specialize in lymphoma and provide a forum for regional and global experts on the disease. The center would include a program that supports child and adolescent cancer survivors, the statement said.

The Lemieux foundation was started in 1993, the same year Lemieux was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. Lemieux is 20 years cancer-free and has worked through his foundation to help others with cancer.

Lymphoma is one of the most common types of pediatric cancer. This year, 1,000 children younger than 14 and 1,220 children between 15 and 19 will be diagnosed with some form of lymphoma, the American Cancer Society estimates.

Corinne Kennedy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7823 or ckennedy@tribweb.com.

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