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Cancer

Cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the body begin to divide uncontrollably. The types of cancer that are most common in children are not the same as those that adults tend to develop, so diagnosing and treating them requires specialized training. Physicians who focus on pediatric cancer are known as oncologists and hematologists. At IU Health, our pediatric cancer specialists are leaders in clinical care and in research, treating more than 80 percent of all new cancer diagnoses in children in the state. We also care for children with blood conditions such as sickle cell disease, anemia, bone marrow failure and hemophilia. Based at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, our cancer team cares for children from Indiana, the Midwest and other areas.

Leukemias and malignancies of the brain and central nervous system together make up about half of all new pediatric cancer cases. On their own, leukemias—malignancies of the bone marrow and blood—make up more than 30 percent of pediatric cancer cases. The most common type is acute lymphocytic leukemia, with incidence peaking between ages 2 and 4 years. Other relatively common types of cancer in children include neuroblastoma, lymphoma and bone cancer.

Many factors contribute to people getting cancer, and it is not always clear what the reasons are in a specific case. Infectious agents, environmental toxins and genetics all likely play roles. Fortunately, many childhood cancers tend to respond well to treatment. The overall five-year survival rate for pediatric cancer patients is 80 percent, significantly higher than the adult rate.

At IU Health, we deliver expert pediatric cancer care that accounts for the needs and preferences of you and your child. Our multidisciplinary approach and access to a full range of advanced diagnostic and therapeutic equipment ensures that your child will receive comprehensive care. Based at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University, our cancer services are highly ranked on the annual U.S.News & World Report list of Best Children’s Hospitals. The Riley Hospital for Children Cancer Center at IU Health and Indiana University Health Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center together are Indiana’s largest providers of cancer care for children—and its only providers of stem cell transplantation for children.

As faculty members of the Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, our physicians are active in research to find more effective treatment options for children with cancer. In some cases, our involvement in clinical studies gives our patients access to medications that are not yet commercially available. Additionally, our physicians are dedicated to helping educate the next generation of pediatric oncologists.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Cancer Treatment Information

Some of the key treatments that we provide include:


Cancer Locations & Physicians

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Find a Specialist

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Cancer Support Services

Information on pediatric cancer and blood disorders is available from several reputable national organizations. The following sites can help families to understand these conditions, choose suitable treatments and find support in their community: