You just found out your child has leukemia. You’re shocked, scared, and trying to figure out what to do. You have a lot of questions, like where to go for treatment and how to help your child cope.
At UVA Health Children’s, our team of pediatric cancer specialists is here for you every step of the way. We provide expert care and the latest treatments. We also offer the compassionate support you need through treatment and beyond.
Why UVA Children’s for Childhood Leukemia
UVA Children’s is the #1 children's hospital in Virginia. Our child-centered team offers care targeted to the special needs of children.
UVA Children’s is part of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), the world’s largest group for childhood cancer research. Children treated at COG centers have better outcomes, according to the American Cancer Society.
Finding the Best Treatment for Childhood Leukemia
Our team has extensive experience treating the most common types of childhood leukemia. These are acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We're also experts in treating rarer kinds of blood cancer.
We’ll do testing to find your child’s type of leukemia. We’ll discuss treatment options with you, including side effects. That way, you can make the best decision for your child.
The Main Treatment for Childhood Leukemia: Chemotherapy
We usually give chemo in cycles, so your child’s body can recover between treatments. Our pediatric cancer specialists will tailor treatment and the schedule to your individual child. That gives them the best chance of a good outcome.
Generally, children with ALL receive lower doses of chemo over 2-3 years. Children with AML receive higher doses over a shorter period, for less than a year.
We'll also work to treat any side effects, so your child is as comfortable as possible.
Not all children with leukemia need radiation. In some cases, radiation might help us:
- Prevent leukemia from spreading to the brain
- Treat a tumor pressing on the windpipe
- Before stem-cell transplant
Immunotherapy helps your child’s immune system kill cancer cells.
CAR T-Cell Therapy: When Chemo Doesn't Work
CAR T-cell therapy is a new FDA-approved option for ALL when chemo doesn’t work. UVA Children’s took part in the National Institutes of Health-sponsored clinical trials to develop this therapy. Our research helped uncover important side effects.
We’re continuing to research new ways to use CAR T-cell therapy to treat childhood leukemia.
Cancer Survivor Turned Competitive Gymnast
Anna Pitts underwent two-and-a-half years of chemo for childhood leukemia, beginning before her second birthday. Now a teenager, she's thriving as a competitive gymnast.