Leukemia and lymphoma

If your child has been diagnosed with leukemia or lymphoma, you want answers, hope, and an expert team who will be by your side. University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital provides that comprehensive support to families like yours.

When diagnosing childhood cancers and blood disorders such as leukemia and lymphoma, we use the latest technologies to precisely identify and understand the behavior of the disease. Then we work to aggressively attack the cancer cells and prevent them from spreading.

Every aspect of our care and our environment is designed to serve the needs of children and their families.

Leukemia and lymphoma conditions we treat

There are many different types of leukemia and lymphoma. Each child is unique and deserves personalized treatment. Our experience in treating childhood cancers and blood disorders is nationally recognized.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)

Also known as acute lymphocytic leukemia, this disease is the most common type of childhood leukemia. During this fast-acting disease, the body produces too many lymphocytes, which are infection-fighting white blood cells. These cells do not mature correctly and cannot properly fight infection.

Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)

Acute myelogenous leukemia begins in myeloid cells. These cells usually produce red blood cells, platelets and white blood cells other than lymphocytes. AML is also known as acute myelocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, or acute non-lymphocytic leukemia.

Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)

This type of slow-growing leukemia is somewhat rare in children. The disease originates in myeloid cells and can be more aggressive in children and young adults.

Juvenile Myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML)

This type of leukemia almost always forms before the age of 2 and is associated with other genetic conditions for some patients. Treatments vary according to the genetic cause of this type of leukemia.

Hodgkin lymphoma

Also known as Hodgkin disease, this cancer that commonly affects adolescents and young adults involves the lymph nodes. Patients with Hodgkin lymphoma can experience difficulty breathing and other symptoms like night sweats, unexplained weight loss, and unexplained fevers.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph nodes. Symptoms are related to the location of the cancer and are widely varied. The three most common types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in children are lymphoblastic lymphoma, Burkitt lymphoma, and diffuse B large cell lymphoma.

Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH)

This rare disease affects the function of the body’s immune system and causes white blood cells to attack healthy cells. Patients are diagnosed with either familial or acquired HLH.

Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH)

This rare disease of the body’s immune system causes white blood cells to attack healthy cells in one or more of the body’s organ systems. Some patients can be cured with surgery only. Others require medical treatment.

Treatments and services

There are many different kinds of blood cancers, and the optimal treatment varies by disease and factors specific to each patient. Your child’s care team will work with you to find the best treatment plan for your child.

Imaging

Though you may already have a specific diagnosis for your child, your care team may conduct additional imaging to further evaluate and determine the stage of cancer.  

Genetic testing and sequencing

Biopsied sections of tumors can be sent to genetic testing to be sequenced. By understanding the mutation and genetic profile of your child’s cancer, your care team can provide more targeted treatment.

Medication and chemotherapy

Many tumors and cancers require treatment through chemotherapy and other medicines. At UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, children can receive chemotherapy as an inpatient or outpatient. Medicines for cancer can be given by mouth or into a vein, in which case central venous lines are used to minimize the number of times your child will require IV placements or shots.

Immune effector cellular therapy

CAR T-cell therapy uses white blood cells to attack cancer cells. During this process, your child’s immune system is reprogrammed to track and kill cancer cells.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is required for some children, but in those cases, it is carefully planned to minimize the dose and areas exposed. For young children, pediatric anesthesiologists are available to provide sedation. Treatment can last less than an hour per day for older children, and half a day for younger kids.

Why choose UI Stead Family Children's Hospital?

At UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, you’ll never have to navigate your child’s care alone. We bring together comprehensive, compassionate care in an environment that supports your child at every turn.  

A multidisciplinary approach 

We use a multidisciplinary approach to treat your child. Your child benefits from a care team that collaborates with adult care specialists, providing a seamless transition of care when the time comes. Working with highly skilled nurses, therapists, social workers, and mental health specialists, the hematology team will ensure your child is cared for throughout the treatment process and beyond.

Clinical trials

We’re the region’s only pediatric academic medical center. Our physicians and researchers work every day to uncover innovative treatments for your child’s illness. We’ll talk with you about the latest in clinical trials and the newest techniques academic medicine can offer. Trials include research with the Children’s Oncology Group, such as toxicity studies for chemotherapy patients. A listing of clinical trials is found on the clinical trials website. Collaboration with the bone and marrow transplant program means access to innovative treatments like CAR T-cell therapy.

Resources for you

Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program

Cancer treatment is a unique challenge for a teenager or young adult. The Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Program is a joint program between UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital and UI Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center that addresses the individual needs of this older group of patients.

Learn how Carter was able to overcome leukemia with the help of his care team

Your child deserves the most comprehensive care, which is why we are proud to offer procedures like bone marrow transplant.

Health library

Understanding your child’s health is important. The UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital health library can help answer some of the most common health questions parents have.