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Pediatric Leukemia Treatment Program

The Leukemia Treatment Program for children and teenagers at the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC is dedicated to providing patients with the most advanced, pediatric leukemia treatment available. We specialize in treating patients’ different types of leukemia, from standard to high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), very-high-risk ALL and acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

Our cancer specialists provide customized care to meet the specific needs of the patient while also balancing the social and emotional needs of the patient and family. Treatments for children and teenagers are based on the type and stage of leukemia, as well as the most current international protocols and research.

What We Treat: Leukemia in children and teens

Our leukemia team treats all types of leukemia:

  • Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), both B and T cell
  • Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)
  • Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL)
  • Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML)
  • Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia (JMML)
  • Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)
  • Ph-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia
  • Relapsed and refractory leukemia
  • Transient Myeloproliferative Disorders (TMD)

The pediatric leukemia team also works with patients receiving blood and marrow transplants through the Cancer Institute’s Blood and Marrow Transplant Program.

Two cancer teen patients walking in the hospital hallway

Clinical Trials and Research

Children’s and teens cancers are very different than adult cancers and must be treated with specific pediatric cancer protocols. Our experience in exclusively treating children, teens and young adults makes us the experts in the evaluation and treatment of all forms of common childhood and adolescent cancers. We are dedicated to administering the very latest pediatric cancer treatment options. A majority of our protocols come from the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), a national organization funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Our relationship with the COG makes us the only medical center in the southwestern United States offering COG Phase I clinical trials.

Learn more about our ongoing research and the clinical trials available at the Cancer Institute.

Frequently Asked Questions About Leukemia

When a member of the family is diagnosed with leukemia, the entire family is affected and bound to have many questions. The experts in our Leukemia Treatment Program have put together answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about leukemia in children that new patients and families typically ask. The answers to these questions should not replace the instructions or advice provided by the patient's healthcare team.

Leukemia is a blood cancer in which there are too many white blood cells in the blood and bone marrow. There are several types of leukemia but they all have uncontrolled growth of white blood cells. There are four major subtypes of leukemia:
  • Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)
  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
The bone marrow is a soft, spongy tissue found inside the bones. The bone marrow is responsible for the development and storage of most of the body's blood cells.
Leukemia is not contagious. Most patients with leukemia have no family history of it. There is no evidence that leukemia can be passed on from person to person. Occasionally there might be a genetic predisposition to developing leukemia, but the susceptibility is unknown.
It is most important that everyone know that it is not contagious. Leukemia is a cancer of the blood. Let friends and family know how important it is to make sure they are not sick or haven’t been around others who are sick before seeing the patient.
Treatment for leukemia consists of chemotherapy. Other treatments may include immunotherapy or certain biologic molecules which are still investigational.
Leukemia treatment usually last two-and-a-half years for girls and three years for boys.
The combination of chemotherapy and central nervous system radiation involved in the treatment can impact growth, development and neurologic function later in life, although these effects vary from patient to patient. Successfully treated children have gone on to have healthy children of their own as adults. After treatment, long-term follow-up may include:
  • Laboratory tests and radiologic scans
  • Electrocardiograms
  • Echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart)
  • Hearing tests
  • Neuropsychological evaluations
Once discharged from the initial hospital visit, patients require blood tests and doctor visits weekly. Once on maintenance chemotherapy the visits become much less frequent (about once per month).