The clear choice for pediatric cancer care is right here in the Valley. Children with suspected or confirmed cancer can stay close to their families while receiving the excellent care they need. The Craycroft Cancer Center at Valley Children’s Hospital Central California has the expertise and state-of-the-art facility to diagnose and manage all forms of cancer while delivering the kid-friendly treatment you expect.
One of the 10 largest hospitals of its kind in the country, Children’s breadth of specialized services and depth of experience enable us to treat childhood cancer from the most common to the rarest conditions. Our multidisciplinary team has grown to include eight board certified and board eligible pediatric oncologists/hematologists with expertise in treating childhood cancer and clinical research in pediatric oncology. Trained at top institutions across the country and beyond, these physicians have brought their skilled knowledge to our region.
The Craycroft Cancer Center serves as one of the leading pediatric cancer facilities on the West Coast and the only provider of pediatric oncology services between Los Angeles and the Bay Area. The Center includes an outpatient center and a fully-equipped 36-bed inpatient unit, Starship Craycroft. Our goal is to provide infants, children and adolescents quick access to care and an early diagnosis. Our experienced team can then develop an individualized treatment plan to ensure the best possible outcome.
Children’s Oncology Group (COG) Membership
The Craycroft Cancer Center is a member of COG, a cooperative research collaborative of about 235 medical institutions that works to identify cancer causes and pioneer new treatments and cures. Committed to exploring new life-saving therapies when available, the Center has more than 300 children on COG protocols at any given time, offering the latest medications and treatment regimens. Involved in more than 100 ongoing clinical trials, the Center is one of the largest participants in COG research protocols on the West Coast. The Center serves more than 500 families and diagnoses over 100 new cases in children a year.
Craycroft Outpatient Oncology Center
To reduce children’s stress and discomfort, we make every effort to treat them on an outpatient basis. The outpatient oncology center has multiple exam and treatment rooms and an infusion center. To make the environment more comfortable for children undergoing tests and procedures, the infusion center has a play area and a Child Life specialist available to provide play therapy.
Treatments performed include:
- Chemotherapy infusions
- Blood transfusions
- Bone marrow aspirations and biopsies
- Lumbar punctures
- Administration of chemotherapy into the cerebrospinal fluid
Starship Craycroft Inpatient Oncology Unit
When an inpatient stay is necessary, Starship Craycroft provides a welcoming atmosphere for children of all ages. The unit features private rooms, each with a high-efficiency filter system to protect patients with weakened immune systems, restroom facilities and accommodations for overnight family stays. All rooms have televisions, with in-room movies and video games on demand. Free onsite parking and RV hook-ups are also convenient for family members.
In addition to the procedures and treatments performed in the outpatient center, we offer inpatient care to children who:
- Have an acute illness in addition to their form of cancer
- Need more intensive chemotherapy
- Need numerous transfusions
- Are just beginning their cancer treatment
- Have an acute illness because of their weakened immune system
Brain and nervous system cancers are the second most common cancers in children, making up about one-fourth of childhood cancers. A tumor in the brain can especially damage a child’s long-term development, potentially affecting their personality, ability to function and growth. To improve diagnosis and treatment, our Neuro-oncologist, Dr. David Samuel, contributes valuable expertise as part of the diverse team – including neurosurgery, neurology, physiatry and radiology – that provides patient care. With in-depth training in this specialized field focused on brain and nervous system cancer, Dr. Samuel coordinates the patient’s multidisciplinary care and plays a key role in determining how best to treat the brain tumor.
Cancer therapies have dramatically improved over the past 30 years. Today, an estimated 85 percent of children treated for cancer will become long-term survivors. But the very same treatments that cure cancer patients put them at risk for long-term health problems. The Children's Hospital Central Childhood California Cancer Survivorship Program helps these patients prepare for a brighter future. The program provides a comprehensive evaluation of the cancer survivor’s health and academic and social development, as well as patient education about their diagnosis, treatment, potential late effects and maintaining health. Clinical program coordinators collect data and contact survivors for follow-up clinical trials to evaluate long-term health effects of childhood cancer treatments. This beneficial feedback helps improve treatments for all children.
Conditions treated include:
- Acute lymphoblastic (ALL)
- Acute myeloid (AML)
- Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)
Lymphoma: Hodgkin’s, Non-Hodgkin’s
Brain tumors: Medulloblastoma, Ependymoma, Glioma, Astrocytoma, Primitive neuroecto-dermal tumor (PNET)
Bone tumors: Ewing’s sarcoma, Osteosarcoma
Neuroblastoma (tumor of the adrenal gland or related tissues)
Rhabdomyosarcoma (soft tissue tumor)
Hepatoblastoma (liver cancer)
Wilms’ Tumor (kidney cancer)
Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH)
Germ cell tumor (tumor of the ovaries or testes)
Children’s also offers complete hematology services for all types of blood disorders. Our team performs outpatient blood, platelet, and immune-globulin transfusions for our pediatric patients who require these regimens.
Additionally, Children’s Hemophilia Treatment Center is involved in the Centers for Disease Control’s ongoing Universal Data Collection project, which benefits our bleeding disorder patients. The Treatment Center has participated in this blood safety and surveillance study since 2001. Children’s hematology specialists also work with expert hematologists across the country to offer some of the newest treatments available for thalassemia, sickle cell disease and iron overload.
Blood disorders treated include:
- Diamond-Blackfan anemia (DBA)
- Iron deficiency
- Hereditary spherocytosis
- Sickle cell anemia
Thrombocytopenia: Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)
- von Willebrand disease
- Platelet dysfunction
Neutropenia (low white blood cell count)
Bone marrow failure
- Aplastic anemia
- Fanconi anemia
Transfusional iron overload
Thrombophilia (hypercoagulation syndrome)
Specialized Care at Children’s
Treatment for children with cancer or a blood disorder is different than an adult, from how children metabolize medication to varying effects of cancer therapies on their development. With about 60 years of pediatric experience, Children’s primary focus is what is best for the child. We work with each child’s family to provide education on the child’s diagnosis and treatment options and help them understand what the information means. We direct them to additional resources and provide hope and comfort in what can be a devastating time. We are a family with our families.
In addition to our pediatric oncologists/hematologists, our multidisciplinary team includes nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, clinical psychologists, neuro-psychologists, social workers, interpreters, and when needed, palliative care specialists. The team works closely with other Hospital services and pediatric subspecialties to encompass a full spectrum of care.
Vinod Balasa, MD - Special interest, unique expertise, and vast experience in managing children with bleeding and clotting disorders.
Dr. Balasa is board certified in pediatric hematology and oncology by the American Board of Pediatrics. He joined Valley Children’s Hospital in August 2012 as medical director, hematology/oncology. His primary interests include the diagnosis, treatment, and care of children with various cancers and blood disorders.
Vonda Crouse, MD - Principal investigator for COG
Dr. Crouse completed her fellowship training in pediatric hematology/oncology at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and has over 30 years’ clinical experience. She came to Fresno in 1987 and established the Central Valley’s first pediatric oncology program, evolving into the program today. She has participated in Children’s Oncology Group (COG) since 1980 and serves as our COG principal investigator.
John Gates, MD - Late Effects/Survivorship Program
Dr. Gates completed his fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at Texas Children’s Cancer Center-Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He also completed a research fellowship at The Center for Collaborative and Interactive Technologies at Baylor College. Dr. Gates leads our multidisciplinary Late-Effects/Survivorship Program addressing late effects of childhood cancer treatments and the health and development of childhood cancer survivors.
J. Daniel Ozeran, MD - Special interest in cellular therapeutics and stem cell transplants
Dr. Ozeran completed his fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine and Mattel Children’s Hospital at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Prior to Children’s, Dr. Ozeran served as clinical instructor at UCLA, and is a clinical assistant professor at University of California San Francisco (UCSF). He serves as our hematology/oncology academic medical director for the UCSF/Fresno Pediatric Residency Program. Dr. Ozeran’s primary interest is in providing care for patients requiring stem cell transplants.
Faisal Razzaqi, MD - Special interest in stem cell transplants
Dr. Razzaqi completed his fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Children’s Hospital of New Orleans. His primary interests include leukemias, lymphomas, histiocytic disorders and patients requiring stem cell transplants.
David Samuel, MD - Neuro-oncology specialist
Dr. Samuel completed his fellowships in pediatric hematology/oncology at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and St. Bartholomew’s and the Royal London NHS Trust, the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London, and in pediatric neuro-oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. As our neuro-oncologist, Dr. Samuel leads the multidisciplinary team at Children’s providing care for children with brain and spinal tumors.
Wendy Tcheng, MD - Special interest in bleeding disorders, neuroblastoma and renal tumors
Dr. Tcheng completed her fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine and Mattel Children’s Hospital at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She also completed a fellowship in hemostasis and thrombosis at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. Prior to Children’s, Dr. Tcheng served as assistant professor at UCLA and the COG responsible investigator at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Her primary interests include bleeding disorders, neuroblastoma and renal tumors.
Ruetima Titapiwatanakun, MD - Special interest in bone and soft tissue tumors
Dr. Titapiwatanakun (“Dr. Ti”) completed her fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at the Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education in Rochester, Minn. Her primary interests include bleeding disorders and bone and soft tissue tumors. Dr. Ti is active in our bone and soft tissue tumor program providing care for children and young adults with osteosarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma and other rare tumors.
Physician Referral Guidelines
Pediatric Hematology Referral Guidelines
Pediatric Oncology Referral Guidelines
Programs Affiliated with the Cancer Center