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Children's cancer centers

A children's cancer center is a place dedicated to treating children with cancer. It may be a hospital. Or it may be a unit inside a hospital. These centers treat children less than a year old to age 19 years.

Centers do more than provide medical care. They also help families deal with the impact of cancer. Many also:

  • Conduct clinical trials
  • Study cancer prevention and control
  • Do basic laboratory research
  • Provide cancer information and education
  • Offer social and mental health services for patients and families

Why Consider a Children's Cancer Center

Treating childhood cancer is not the same as treating adult cancer. The cancers are different. So are the treatments and the effect on patients and their families. Children's physical and emotional needs differ from those of adults.

Your child will get the best care possible at a children's cancer center. Studies show that survival rates are higher in children treated at these centers.

Children's cancer centers focus solely on treating childhood cancer. The staff is trained to work with children and adolescents. Your child and family will receive care from experts in treating childhood cancer. They include:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Social workers
  • Mental health experts
  • Therapists
  • Child life workers
  • Teachers
  • Clergy

Centers also offer many specific benefits such as:

  • Treatment follows guidelines that ensure your child gets the best current treatment.
  • Centers conduct clinical trials that your child may be able to join. Clinical trials offer new treatments that are not available elsewhere.
  • Centers have programs designed for families. Those programs can help your family deal with social, emotional, and financial needs.
  • Many centers are designed to be both kid and family friendly. That helps takes some of the trauma out of being in the hospital. It can also help relieve your child's anxiety, which can get in the way of treatment.
  • Many centers are able to help you find accommodations. That makes it easier to be close to your child during his or her treatment.

Locating a Children's Cancer Center

To locate a children's cancer center:

  • Your health care provider can help you find centers in your area.
  • The American Childhood Cancer Organization has a directory that lists treatment centers by state. It also has links to those centers' websites. The website is at www.acco.org.
  • The Children's Oncology Group (COG) website has an app that will let you link to COG centers anywhere in the world. The site is at www.childrensoncologygroup.org.

Getting to a Center

  • Finding a place to stay should not keep you from going to a center. Many centers can help you find lodging while your child is in the hospital. You can also find free or low-cost housing through Ronald McDonald House Charities. The website has a locator that lets you search by country and state. Go to www.rmhc.org.
  • Finances and travel also should not keep you from getting the care your child needs. The National Children's Cancer Society (NCCS) has links and contact information for agencies that can provide financial help. You can also apply for funding from the NCCS to help support your family's travel and lodging. Go to www.thenccs.org.

Alternative Names

Pediatric cancer center; Pediatric oncology center; Comprehensive cancer center


Abrams JS, Mooney M, Zwiebel JA, Christian MC, Doroshow JH. Structures supporting cancer clinical trials. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 20.

American Cancer Society website. Finding and paying for treatment. www.cancer.org/treatment/finding-and-paying-for-treatment.html. Updated November 15, 2015. Accessed August 22, 2018.

American Cancer Society website. Navigating the health care system when your child has cancer. www.cancer.org/treatment/children-and-cancer/when-your-child-has-cancer/during-treatment/navigating-health-care-system.html. Updated September 19, 2017. Accessed August 22, 2018.

National Cancer Institute website. Cancer in children and adolescents. www.cancer.gov/types/childhood-cancers/child-adolescent-cancers-fact-sheet. Updated October 8, 2018. Accessed July 15, 2019.

Review Date 7/26/2018

Updated by: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. 07-15-19: Editorial update.

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