Treatment for All Types of Childhood Leukemia
Leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow, the substance inside bones that makes blood cells. Most often, leukemia affects the white blood cells that help fight infection, but it can affect red blood cells that carry oxygen, and platelets that help with blood clotting.
The most common types of leukemia in children include:
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
- Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
Duke Children’s pediatric cancer doctors have the skills and expertise to treat all types of childhood leukemia, each of which requires a different treatment approach. We use blood tests and a bone marrow exam to identify what type of leukemia is affecting your child and whether it’s related to a genetic change. We also take a sample of spinal fluid to determine whether leukemia cells are in the central nervous system. This comprehensive evaluation allows us to design and personalize a treatment plan that offers your child the best possible results while minimizing the risk of long-term side effects. We will also work with you to create a follow-up plan for long-term health monitoring.
Family and Support Services
We treat the whole child -- not just the disease. Your child receives a personalized treatment and follow-up plan that’s tailored to their needs. You have access to a variety of services that are designed to make your child’s experience as positive as possible and support your family throughout treatment.
Extended Cancer Outpatient Services
We offer outpatient services -- such as chemotherapy, transfusions, and lab tests -- 12 hours a day, seven days a week at Duke Children’s Valvano Day Hospital. This means your child won’t need to be admitted to the hospital just because they feel ill or need treatment on a day when your doctor’s office is closed.
Teens and young adults are too old to be treated like young kids, but adult care might not be quite right for them either. Our Teen and Young Adult Oncology Program brings together the expertise of pediatric and adult cancer specialists to determine what’s best for each person, along with personalized psychological support. We customize treatment and services that consider your child’s unique needs, including support and guidance to help them cope with the impact of treatment on their high school or college activities and their social life.
Childhood Cancer Survivorship Care
Once treatment is complete, you can count on us for continuing support. We offer long-term follow-up services for preventive health care, including screenings and ongoing surveillance. Our cancer care doctors and nurses work with social workers and child psychologists who can offer support and assistance with school-related or personal issues. In addition, we can help your child transition to adult cancer care services when they’re ready. If your child needs other services related to treatment, we refer you to subspecialists. You’ll have resources and support to ensure your child’s long-term well-being.
Care Coordination and Support
It’s helpful to have a team on your side to help you manage your child’s care. Our social workers help you navigate the medical system and coordinate the variety of health services your child needs. They can help you work with insurance providers, connect with resources, and manage the details related to your child’s care. Our nurse coordinators can help you schedule appointments for tests, treatments, and other medical visits.
Your Child Benefits from Our Expertise and Family-Centered Care
Expert Pediatric Leukemia Specialists
Our leukemia specialists are also researchers who are dedicated to improving care for childhood cancer. They collaborate with pediatric cancer experts worldwide through the Children's Oncology Group, the world’s largest childhood and adolescent cancer research organization. That means your child benefits from the combined knowledge of leading cancer care experts and has access to the latest treatments, including stem cell transplantation.
Your child’s cancer care team works collaboratively with pediatric specialists throughout Duke to address all areas of your child’s health that can be affected by leukemia and its treatment. Because leukemia affects the bloodstream, your child’s care team may include expert guidance from specialists in heart care, neurology, hormonal disorders, reproductive health, and other areas. Together, we monitor your child’s health and manage his or her symptoms.
Support and Guidance
During different phases of treatment, your child will need to spend time in the hospital. The amount of time and how often varies. Your child and family will have a full range of support to help you. Our child life specialists are available to explain procedures or offer fun activities to help your child pass the time. Our social workers and psychologists can offer support and guidance. And you can get a light meal, take a shower, or use the computer in our Ronald McDonald Family Room. We do everything we can to make your time at the hospital a little more comfortable.
Care and Comfort
Your child’s comfort is important to us. Our team focuses on managing symptoms and other aspects of treatment that affect your child’s quality of life. We help with pain management, supportive nutrition, relaxation techniques, and other approaches to help your child get through treatment as comfortably as possible.