A Comprehensive Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

Pediatric Cancer

Comer Children's Hospital at the University of Chicago Medicine is a state-of-the-art children's hospital where teams of pediatric experts use advanced diagnostic and medical techniques to care for children of all ages. In 2012, Comer was again named among “America's Best” by U.S.News & World Report. Comer experts specialize in many areas, including pediatric cancer. Also, the January 2012 issue of Chicago Magazine lists 16 Comer physicians at “Top Kids’ Docs” in the metropolitan Chicago area, including five members of the UCCCC.

Cancer is a scary word for kids and adults. Many people know someone who has had cancer and has been sick. Most of the time, cancer affects older people, but it can also affect kids. There are many different types of cancer, and children and adults develop very different forms of the disease. The types of cancer that kids get can often be treated and cured. In fact, most children diagnosed with cancer can be cured.

Cancer cells are not like healthy cells in the body. Normal body cells grow and divide, and they also know when to stop. Cancer cells do not know when to stop growing and can clump together to form tumors. A growing tumor can destroy the normal cells around it, which can make a person very sick.

Cancer is not contagious. Cancer isn't caused by germs, like a cold or the flu. You can talk to and play with someone with cancer without being afraid.

Kids can not get cancer from anything they do or don't do. For example, a bump on the head during a rowdy game of soccer won't cause brain cancer.

Cancer is usually treated with surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation—or a combination of these different treatments—depending on the type of cancer someone has, how much the cancer cells have spread, or how big the tumor is.

Kids being treated for cancer are able to do many of the things they used to do before getting cancer. Many are able to play and go to school, but there may be times during the treatment when he or she is not able to go to school or see other people. This is usually only for a little while. At these times, he or she may need to rest in order to get better. While getting treated, he or she will need to return to the hospital at times to meet the doctor and to make sure that the cancer does not come back.

For children receiving treatment far from home, the Ronald McDonald House near the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital is a 22-bedroom facility that provides a "home away from home" to keep families together. The house provides comfortable private rooms, meals, and an opportunity to bond with other families. A donation of $10 per night is suggested.