Childhood Leukemia

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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 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 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center is also the only one in the state. That means your child will receive the most advanced childhood leukemia treatments available. 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.

Radiation

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

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.

Clinical Trials: Access the Newest Treatments

Our clinical trials help you find treatments not available to the public yet.