Sickle Cell Disease

At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, we care for adults with sickle cell disease. Along with our local patients, we see many people from farther away, like Alaska. They get most of their care near home, but they also come here for treatment and advice from our experts. We provide all the standard therapies as well as innovative new options. 

Our physicians are national leaders in sickle cell research. Often, our sickle cell disease patients choose to join clinical trials — led by world-class specialists from Fred Hutch and UW Medicine — to be able to try the newest therapies that are not available anywhere else.

Fred Hutch: A Leader in Sickle Cell Disease Treatment

Many health care providers in the community do not have much experience treating adults with sickle cell disease. More than half of physicians say they have no patients with this condition. They also say they are not comfortable managing acute and chronic pain from the disease.1

At Fred Hutch, you will get state-of-the-art care from some of the world’s leading hematologists. The team in our Sickle Cell Disease Clinic has the training and experience to meet your needs.

Your First Appointment

If you have sickle cell disease, Fred Hutch is here for you. 

From the first time you come to see us, your clinic team will begin getting to know you and your family. What are your questions? What are your concerns? 

We will also explain the treatment options for your specific situation. Before you leave, your team will make sure you understand the next steps.

Learn About Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell disease is a group of inherited blood disorders. It causes red blood cells to take on a crescent (sickle) shape and become rigid. These cells can break apart easily, leading to anemia. Because they are sticky, they can also form clumps and stick to the walls of blood vessels. This can slow or block the flow of blood and make it harder for your body to get oxygen. 

Facts & Resources

Treatment for Sickle Cell Disease

You are unique, and your care team will design a treatment plan specifically for — and with — you. At Fred Hutch, doctors with knowledge and experience in sickle cell disease will plan and provide your care.

Our physicians provide the full range of sickle cell disease treatments. Based on your exact case, your treatment may include medicines, like hydroxyurea, crizanlizumab, L-glutamine and voxelotor, and blood transfusions. 


Sickle Cell Disease Care Team

At Fred Hutch, we surround you with experts who focus on sickle cell disease and other blood disorders. A handful of people make up the core of your care team. You will have a hematologist and a registered nurse who specialize in sickle cell disease. At some visits, you might see an advanced practice provider. Some patients get part of their treatment from infusion nurses. A patient care coordinator will schedule your visits. 

Care Team

Our Approach to Treatment

The safest, most effective and most widely accepted therapies for sickle cell disease are known as the “standard of care.” For many patients, these therapies will be a large part of their treatment. At Fred Hutch, we provide all standard therapies for this condition. We know how to choose the right ones for you and how to deliver them to give you the best chance at a full and active life.

Our physicians and researchers are always asking how we can make sickle cell disease treatments more effective and reduce side effects as much as possible. This is why we do clinical trials (also called clinical studies). Through these studies, we are able to offer you therapies that aren’t available everywhere. A therapy that is going through trials today may become the new standard of care tomorrow.

Along with treating your disease, a group of world-class professionals is here to support you. This team includes advanced practice providers, pain medicine specialists, pharmacists, nurses, registered dietitians, physical therapists, social workers and psychologists. We also include supportive care services for your physical, mental and emotional well-being. 

caregiver with family member

Role of the Caregiver

When someone close to you is living with sickle cell disease, you might step into the role of caregiver. Being a caregiver can mean many things, from lending a hand with daily living tasks to helping with medical decisions. It can also mean dealing with your own emotions and stress.

At Fred Hutch, caregivers are valuable members of a patient’s care team. We see every day that your presence and your support make a difference. We know that what your friend or family member is going through affects you, too.

Part of our mission is to help you take care of yourself. Caring for yourself is good for your own physical, mental and emotional health. It also helps you give your best to your loved one. Our social workers, Spiritual Health team and Patient and Family Resource Center staff are here to help support you.

Latest Treatments and Clinical Trials

Physicians and scientists from Fred Hutch and UW Medicine are testing new treatments for sickle cell disease and finding new ways to use current treatments. 

Through this work, we are looking for answers to two main questions: How can we do even better at controlling or curing sickle cell disease? How can we make treatments less toxic and easier on patients?

Our researchers are involved in research to develop and test:

  • Better ways to do blood and marrow transplants
  • Novel (new) medicines, like treatments to improve anemia, decrease the need for transfusions or make pain episodes happen less often
  • Gene therapy to stop red blood cells from sickling and prevent pain and organ damage — a possible cure for sickle cell disease

When your care team designs your treatment plan, they will give you the choice to join clinical trials that match your situation. If you decide to join one, you will see the same physicians and nurses as you would for standard therapy.

Your care team will talk with you about if you might want to join a particular study and why. This can help you make the decision that is best for you.

Related News

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Advances in blood disorders research continue despite COVID-19 Expanding use of CAR T-cell therapies, gene editing lead to insights at virtual annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology December 10, 2020
$3.5M grant to develop safer treatment for inherited blood disorders Scientists will study radioactive particles that can precisely deliver a potent punch May 21, 2020
A look at emerging sickle cell disease therapies Teams at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy and Fred Hutch will model the clinical and economic burden of sickle cell disease and the potential benefits of emerging therapies November 8, 2019
Special delivery: Gold nanoparticles ship CRISPR cargo Fred Hutch scientists used their new golden courier to edit genes tied to HIV, genetic blood disorders May 27, 2019