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A diagnosis of cancer can be devastating for a child and their family. But there is cause for hope. Advances by specialists at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital and other pediatric hospitals have greatly improved outcomes over the years. Today, nearly 80 percent of children diagnosed with cancer become long-term survivors, and the majority of them are considered cured. Fifty years ago, less than 10 percent of childhood cancer patients could be cured.
Our pediatric specialists are at the forefront of cancer care, working as part of the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center to provide the latest investigational therapies as well as proven, conventional treatments.
We are on top of the latest breakthroughs in pediatric cancer and pass these on to our patients as quickly as possible. Our program is a leading member of the Children's Oncology Group (COG) — the national cooperative group studying childhood cancer. As members of COG, our physicians collaborate with other leading pediatric oncologists from around the world to identify better ways to diagnose and treat childhood cancers. As a result, our patients benefit from the most promising cancer therapies soon after they are discovered.
Our physicians are continuously asked to participate in — and often lead — national research trials by the National Institutes of Health and other respected organizations. For example, we're one of only 14 medical centers in North America with access to phase 1 clinical trials for neuroblastoma. At any one time, there are more than 80 cancer clinical trials available to young patients at Comer Children's. Because of the innovative research conducted here, our patients often have access to new treatments years before they are widely available elsewhere.
Our kid-friendly, family-centered program is staffed by outstanding physicians, some of whom are widely recognized for their efforts to improve cancer care in children. Here are just a couple of examples:
A large percentage of our patients are teenagers or pre-teens. As a result, our staff have a special appreciation for the issues that adolescents face when they develop cancer.
Our social workers, nurses and child life specialists help adolescent patients through these issues. Teens can also talk to peers in our teen lounge or through our teen support group. If necessary, patients and their families can meet with a therapist from our child and adolescent psychiatry group.
Our pediatric cancer program is a core part of the internationally recognized University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is dedicated to uncovering the causes of cancer and in finding the best methods to cure and prevent cancer. We are one of only two National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the state. Here, nearly 200 of the brightest minds in research are focused on cancer discoveries and are working to bring breakthroughs from the lab to the bedside as quickly as possible. This concentration of leading cancer scientists in basic, translational, clinical and population research is unmatched in Illinois.
Funding from the NCI and other highly respected organizations provides valuable resources for a wide variety of cancer-fighting efforts, from investigating hematological malignant diseases, to developing new treatments for neuroblastoma and sarcoma. Other key programs are researching the best match of medicines to patients' specific genetic types (pharmacogenomics). And, we are advancing medical imaging techniques to better detect and visualize tumors.
Our staff's high level of expertise and skill allows them to take care of very sick children who may be considered too difficult to treat at other pediatric hospitals. Our physicians regularly treat children who have advanced, refractory forms of cancer.
Our experienced team of pediatric cancer specialists provides the most advanced care available to more than 3,000 young people each year. We diagnose and treat children from infancy to adulthood with all major and rare forms of cancer. We provide the latest cancer therapies and treatments, including: