What is sickle cell anemia?
Sickle cell anemia is an inherited form of anemia that often causes pain.
Normal red blood cells are smooth and flexible. Shaped like the letter O they easily move through your blood vessels. Sickle cells become rigid and sticky and are shaped like the letter C. These oddly shaped cells tend to cluster together and get stuck in the small blood vessels slowing or blocking blood flow and oxygen.
The Care you Deserve
There is no cure for sickle cell anemia but treatment can relieve pain and help with complications.
Our hematologists are part of the UW Carbone Cancer Center which is a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. This designation means that the doctors taking care of you are experts in cancer and blood disorder treatment, research and education.
Understanding the symptoms
Signs and symptoms of sickle cell anemia may include:
Episodes of pain
Painful swelling in hands and feet
When to see your doctor
Because there is no cure, receiving routine follow-up with your doctor is important. If you notice any of the following, please contact us immediately:
New areas of pain
Swelling in the hands and feet
Pale skin or nail beds
Yellow tint to skin or eyes
Stroke-like symptoms: weakness, confusion, trouble walking or talking, severe headache
Treatments to reduce complications
Medications including pain-relievers and antibiotics and are used to reduce pain and prevent complications
Blood transfusion. This is a routine medical procedure where donated blood is used to replace blood you have lost.
Fighting Cancer and Blood Disorders
At UW Health, we offer the most advanced treatment options. Our cancer and blood disorder experts are national research leaders. We test new therapies and continue to work on therapies for cancer and blood disorders.
Experts that are here for you
Your care is our top priority and we understand the unique needs you have.
Your team will include
Oncologists (cancer doctors)
Hematologists (blood disease doctors)
Pain management specialists
UW Carbone Cancer Center
The experts at the UW Carbone Cancer Center intimately understand every type of cancer. We will get to know you and design a treatment plan that works for you and your family.
Patient and support services
More ways we can help
These are informational resources to help you learn more about sickle cell anemia.