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Conditions We Treat at the UPMC Adult Sickle Cell Disease Program

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At the Adult Sickle Cell Disease Program in Pittsburgh, Pa., we treat people, aged 21 and up, who have inherited blood disorders.

Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell disease, also called sickle cell anemia, causes the body to produce abnormally shaped red blood cells (erythrocytes). Under a microscope, the normally round cells look like crescents or sickles.

The sickle-shaped cells:

  • Have a shorter life than normal red blood cells
  • Often become lodged in blood vessels, blocking proper blood flow
  • Can cause damage to vital organs and pain

Learn more about sickle cell disease symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.


Thalassemia mainly affects those of Mediterranean or Asian descent. In most cases, it appears during the first two years of life.

With thalassemia, the body has trouble making hemoglobin — the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to tissues throughout the body.

Some people with thalassemia have no symptoms or major health problems. Others have a more severe form of the disease and require special treatments to remove excess iron from the blood.

Learn more about thalassemia symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.


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