Leukemia is the most common form of cancer seen in children, affecting more than 3,000 children in the United States each year. While a diagnosis of this illness seems overwhelming, there is cause to be optimistic. Important scientific breakthroughs in the treatment of leukemia are being made and tested at the University of Chicago Medicine.
Our pediatric cancer care team has the extensive experience needed to provide young leukemia patients outstanding clinical care — offering both the latest investigational therapies as well as established treatments for all types of leukemia. In fact, the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital was the first hospital in Chicago certified to offer CAR T-cell therapy for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in children and young adults.
What is leukemia?
Leukemia, the most common type of childhood cancer, is a cancer of the bone marrow and blood. When children have leukemia, their bone marrow makes white blood cells that do not mature properly. These unhealthy cells rapidly reproduce, crowding out the healthy bone marrow cells that produce infection-fighting white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Leukemia can occur at any age, but is most commonly seen in children between 2 and 6 years old. Little is known about the cause of most leukemia, and it typically affects otherwise healthy children. Some children with certain genetic syndromes are at a higher risk of developing the disease.
The major types of childhood leukemia include:
- Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), also known as acute lymphoid leukemia
- Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
- Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)
- Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)
- Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML)