Treating Childhood Leukemia

Every Child Is Special. So Is Our Leukemia Treatment.

From diagnosis through leukemia treatment and beyond, we care for all your child’s needs. We also offer the most effective therapies, including breakthrough treatments like CAR T-cell therapy. And it’s all under the watchful eyes of nationally recognized leukemia specialists who treat you like family — because you are.

Pediatric Leukemia Treatment at Nemours Children’s: What to Expect

At Nemours, leukemia is one of the most common cancers we treat. That means some of the most experienced leukemia specialists and nurses in the country care for your child. They provide outstanding outcomes for all types of childhood leukemias.

You can expect:

  • Full range of treatments. We offer the best available therapies for childhood leukemias. They include stem cell transplant and immunotherapy for relapsed leukemia (leukemia that comes back after treatment). Whether your child needs basic leukemia treatments or more complex care, we have you covered.
  • Army of experts devoted to your child. Whether you get care from us in Delaware or Florida, the shared expertise of our entire team is behind you. Cancer experts from across our health system regularly review patients, problem-solve and train together. That way, we leave no stone unturned in your child’s care. And through our advanced electronic medical record system, doctors can easily see everything they need to weigh in on harder-to-treat cases — no matter their location.
  • Family atmosphere. Our doctors and nurses have the time and desire to get to know your family, what makes your child tick, and their daily life and stressors. Your child has a core team of familiar faces every step of the way.
  • Immediate care. Most pediatric leukemias need immediate treatment. If your child might have cancer, our team meets you in the emergency department to get the ball rolling on needed tests. From there, you can count on a diagnosis and the start of treatment within a few days. See how we diagnose leukemia in children.
  • First access to the latest breakthroughs. A clinical trial is the best way for children to get leading-edge care. Through our partnerships with the national Children’s Oncology Group and National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), your child can get this groundbreaking care close to home. Read more about our clinical trials for children with leukemia.
  • Education and support. You don’t have to deal with leukemia alone. From the start, our nurses and social workers give you encouragement and information to prepare for what’s to come. We’re available 24/7 to help with your practical, medical and emotional needs.

Find Leukemia Care From Nemours

We have many pediatric leukemia experts and locations — find the care closest to you:

Our Pediatric Leukemia Treatments

There is more hope than ever before for children with leukemia. Pediatric leukemia is very curable, and we offer survival rates that are above the national average.

Kids need to be kids, even during cancer treatment. And our special expertise in symptom and side effect management helps with that. We focus on improving your child’s quality of life now and in the years to come.

Since we tailor care to your child, treatment plans vary. They depend on the type of childhood leukemia and your child’s symptoms and unique needs. Rest assured, we prepare your family for each new stage, so you can make the best decisions for your child.

Treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in childhood

ALL is the most common form of childhood leukemia. It’s also one of the most curable. Chemotherapy is its main treatment, which children get for about two years.

Chemotherapy is medicine that travels through the body, killing cancer cells or stopping their growth. Most kids can come in for outpatient treatment and go home the same day. Outpatient chemo lets your child attend school and live a normal life. Learn more about chemotherapy for childhood leukemia.

Your child’s care may also include:

  • Genetic testing to help with diagnosis and treatment
  • Palliative care to help with symptoms
  • Pain management to ease symptoms from treatment
  • Radiation therapy for some high-risk patients (radiation therapy destroys cancer cells with radiation)
  • Drug therapy, which often comes in pill form and targets the parts of cancer cells that help them grow and survive
  • Support transitioning to adult care

Treatment for Relapsed ALL

If ALL relapses, treatments may include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant
  • Immunotherapy, such as CAR T-cell treatment for leukemia, which boosts the immune system to destroy cancer
  • Radiation therapy
  • Clinical trials

Treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in childhood

AML makes up 25 percent of all pediatric leukemias. Most kids receive treatment over five or six months while in the hospital.

Our leukemia team includes national AML and juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) experts, including the head of the Children’s Oncology Group’s Myeloid Disease Committee. They offer the full range of treatments, including:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Stem cell transplant
  • Clinical trials
  • Palliative care
  • Pain management
  • Support transitioning to adult care

Treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in childhood

Chronic leukemias are much rarer in children than acute leukemias. Chronic leukemias include:

  • Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)
  • Chronic lymphoblastic leukemia (CLL)

Doctors treat CML with a lifelong medication that kids take by mouth daily. But in clinical trials, we’re seeing if we can take kids off the medicine sooner. We also guide and support older teens as they transition to adult care.

Pediatric Intensive Care Units (PICU)

Our PICUs offer intensive care and the latest life support equipment, including ECMO, to almost 3,000 kids every year. ECMO allows the heart and lungs to rest when the body needs to heal.

Pediatric intensive care specialists care for children at all our locations. These providers work with other Nemours specialists. Together, they support and care for your child in a family-friendly atmosphere. Read more about pediatric intensive care at Nemours.

Glossary of Cancer Terms

Here are some words to know if your child has cancer.