Pediatric cancer and blood disorders: We care for your child as if they are our own

UW Health Kids | Carbone Cancer Center experts combine compassion with expertise. We consider you and your child part of our family, standing by your side every step of the way. As your child proceeds from diagnosis to treatment and into adulthood, we care for your child as if she, he or they were our own.

Programs and research

Getting kids back to being kids

Kids shouldn’t have to worry about being sick. UW Health Kids | Carbone Cancer Center experts offer the most advanced treatments to get your child back to health — and back to being a kid. We also lead studies on new medicines and therapies so your child can access every possible treatment option.

How we help you

We have experts who treat everything ranging from common childhood cancers like leukemia and brain tumors to rare blood disorders like aplastic anemia and myelodysplastic syndrome. We also offer more than 50 clinical trials that range from multi-center, cooperative group trials to studies only available here at American Family Children’s Hospital.

Being in the hospital can be very stressful for kids and their families. At American Family Children’s Hospital, certified child life specialists create positive experiences for hospitalized children and their families.

The UW Health Kids | Carbone Cancer Center and American Family Children’s Hospital offer CAR T-cell therapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia and other cancers. American Family Children's Hospital was one of the sites involved in testing this special immunotherapy. We also offer clinical trials to fight cancer using other types of immunotherapy, including NK cells, monoclonal antibodies and drugs that help the immune system work better.

Learn more about CAR T-Cell therapy

American Family Children's Hospital in Madison, Wis., is one of the few locations in the country offering MIBG treatment for neuroblastoma, with a room dedicated to this specialized radiation treatment. We also offer many novel clinical trials for children whose cancer has recurred or has not responded well to initial treatment. Some of these therapies are not available anywhere else in the country.

Learn more about MIBG treatment

You might wish to get a second opinion for a child diagnosed with cancer or a blood or bone marrow disorder. UW Health Kids | Carbone Cancer Center experts offer second opinions on diagnoses and treatment plans. Call (608) 890-8070 to schedule a second opinion appointment.

Our pediatric cancer experts develop new and exciting clinical trials based on ongoing research that results in the most effective, cutting-edge pediatric cancer treatments for our patients.

Learn more
Smiling child with sign reading UW Health Kids
UW Health Kids
Our pediatric experts have served the special needs of children for more than 100 years. We focus on each child’s unique needs and offer social and emotional support to help you and your child face even the most complex condition. Our long history includes the creation of medical advances that save lives around the world. Together, we get your child back to health and enjoying being a kid.

Conditions and treatments

Care for all cancers and blood disorders

If your child has cancer or a blood or bone marrow disorder, you want the very best care available. The UW Health Kids | Carbone Cancer Center team provides the latest and best treatment options so your child can heal quickly and grow up healthy.

Our doctors are national leaders in treatment and research. Our research improves the care of children with cancer and blood and bone marrow disorders around the world.

The most common types of cancers that occur in children are brain tumors, leukemias and lymphomas. Our experts work to treat these and virtually all other childhood cancers, blood disorders and tumors.

Please note: Not all services are provided at all locations.

Conditions we treat include:


Anemia occurs when the body has a lower number of red blood cells then is normal for your child’s age. This can happen if the bone marrow is not producing adequate numbers of red blood cells, or because the red blood cells are being destroyed after their release from the bone marrow.

  • Bone marrow not making enough red blood cells: The most common cause for this type of anemia is iron deficiency, though other causes are possible. Your doctor will run blood tests to determine the cause of the anemia and then recommend appropriate treatment.

  • Red blood cells are being destroyed: This type of anemia is known as hemolytic anemia, and is often caused by an antibody attaching to the red blood cells and causing them to be destroyed. However, many other causes are possible. Your doctor will run tests to determine what is causing the red blood cells to be destroyed and then recommend appropriate treatment.

Additional types of anemias and bone marrow disorders

  • Acquired aplastic anemia: A condition where the bone marrow stops producing adequate numbers of white blood cells (which fight infection), red blood cells (which carry oxygen to tissue) and platelets (which prevent bleeding). The exact cause is often unknown, though the problem can be triggered by certain drugs or infection.

  • Cyclic neutropenia: A rare blood condition characterized by abnormally low levels of certain white blood cells (neutrophils). Neutrophils are important to fight off infection.

  • Diamond-Blackfan Anemia (DBA) syndrome

  • Dykeratosis congenita

  • Fanconi anemia

  • Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH): HLH is a rare disorder affecting the immune system. In this condition, many activated immune cells grow and damage parts of the body like the liver, spleen, bone marrow and brain.

  • Hemophilia (A and B)

  • Immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP): This condition can lead to excessive bruising and bleeding, because of low levels of platelets (a component of the blood that helps form clots).

  • Kostmann syndrome: A condition that occurs when there is an abnormally low number of neutrophils, a type of white cell that helps fight infection.

  • Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS): These are conditions that can occur when the blood-forming cells in the bone marrow become abnormal. This leads to low numbers of one or more types of blood cells. MDS is considered a type of cancer.

  • Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH): This rare blood disease causes red blood cells to break apart. The surface of the blood cell is missing a protein that protects it from the body's immune system.

  • Sickle cell anemia

  • Schwachman-Diamond syndrome: This inherited condition affects many parts of the body, especially bone marrow, pancreas and bones. It reduces the bone marrow's production of the types of white blood cells necessary to fight off infection. It can cause the pancreas to not produce enough enzymes to help gather nutrients from food, and your child might have problems with bone formation and growth.

  • Thalassemia syndromes

  • Thrombocytopenia: A condition where a patient has a low blood platelet count. Blood platelets are necessary to stop bleeding by clotting blood.

  • Von Willebrand disease

  • Astrocytoma

  • Atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor (ATRT): This tumor begins in the brain or spinal cord. It is a fast-growing cancerous tumor, but very rare.

  • Diffuse infiltrative pontine glioma (DIPG)

  • Craniopharyngioma: A rare, non-cancerous tumor found near the pituitary gland.

  • Ependymoma

  • Medulloblastoma

  • Optic glioma: Optic nerve or pathway glioma is a slow-growing tumor in or around the nerve connecting the eye to the brain.

  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)

  • Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)

  • Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) – CML rarely occurs in children. It is a type of cancer that starts in an early version of myeloid cells, blood cells, platelets, and most types of white blood cells. 

  • Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) – JMML is a rare form of childhood leukemia. It occurs when too many stem cells become white blood stem cells known as monocytes and myelocytes. Over time these blood cells crowd out red blood cells and platelets in the bone marrow.

Neuroblastoma is the most common tumor in infants and young children occurring outside the central nervous system. It is usually diagnosed before the age of 5 and most commonly develops in the abdomen or along the spine.

Learn more
  • Neurofibromatosis (types 1 and 2): Neurofibromatosis is an inherited disorder where tumors form on nerve tissue. These tumors can form anywhere in the nervous system. There are two types:

    • Type 1 usually appears in childhood and is often noticeable after birth.

    • Type 2 is less common and involves slow-growing tumors in both ears that can lead to hearing loss and balance issues. Type 2 tumors also can cause Schwannomatosis (see below)

  • Schwannomatosis: Schwannomatosis usually affects people after age 20. Here tumors develop on the cranial, spinal and peripheral nerves.

  • Sturge-Weber syndrome: Sturge-Weber syndrome (SWS) is a neurological disorder in which a child is born with a distinctive port-wine stain on the forehead, scalp or around the eye. Problems in the capillaries near the surface of the skin cause the stain to form. It also can affect the nervous system.

  • Tuberous sclerosis: Tuberous sclerosis is a rare disease that causes tumors in the brain, skin, kidneys, eyes, heart or lungs. They are usually benign (non-cancerous). The first signs of tuberous sclerosis can occur at birth.

  • Von Hippel-Lindau disease: Von Hippel-Lindau disease is a rare, inherited disease that causes tumors and cysts to grow in the brain, spinal cord, kidneys, pancreas, adrenal glands and reproductive organs. The tumors are usually non-cancerous.

  • Ataxia-telangiectasia: Ataxia-telangiectasia is an inherited condition with progressive neurologic problems that cause difficulty walking and an increased risk of developing various cancers.

  • Endocrine tumors: Endocrine tumors affect the organs that make hormones.

  • Germ cell tumors: Germ cell tumors are rare and usually occur in the reproductive organs, (the testes for boys and ovaries for girls). These cells may travel to other parts of the body and cause tumors.

  • Langerhans' cell histiocytosis (LCH)

  • Retinoblastoma: Retinoblastoma is a cancer that starts in the retina, the very back part of the eye. It is the most common type of eye cancer in children.

  • Vascular malformations: Vascular malformations often appear at birth and are a type of birthmark made of blood vessels that can cause functional issues.

Treating children with relapsed or resistant cancers is serious business. If your child has one chance, you’ll want to put your trust in a team whose reputation for innovative pediatric cancer research is unquestioned.

As part of the UW Carbone Cancer Center — Wisconsin’s only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center — our team has played a pivotal role in advancing more effective childhood cancer treatments from the laboratory to the bedside for decades.

Because UW Health frequently offers clinical trials that might not be available elsewhere in the region, your child might be one of the first to benefit from these new approaches. Moreover, those who participate in clinical trials today pay dividends for the cancer patients of tomorrow.

View clinical trials

Available cancer treatments

If your child is diagnosed with cancer or a blood or bone marrow disorder, our team will match the best treatment option to their condition.

During a transfusion, your child receives donor blood, which replaces the blood they have lost.

During a bone marrow transplant (also called stem cell transplantation), healthy donor stem cells are transplanted into your child’s body. A bone marrow transplant helps to rebuild your child’s blood supply and immune system.

Learn more about bone marrow transplant

This treatment removes excess iron from your child’s blood. We might recommend Chelation therapy if your child gets regular blood transfusions.

Chemotherapy is a type of medication treatment used to kill cancer cells.

This therapy stops your child’s immune response so their bone marrow can make blood again.

This is a treatment that uses your child’s immune system to fight cancer. CAR T-cell therapy is one type of immunotherapy offered at UW Health.

UW Health Kids | Carbone Cancer Center is one of the few centers in the U.S. to offer this highly targeted treatment for children with retinoblastoma. It provides 10 times as much medication to the tumor as systemic chemotherapy, using a fraction of the dose.

Our expert doctors might recommend surgery to remove tumors. Whenever possible, we use minimally invasive surgery. Minimally invasive surgery uses tiny incisions and tools, which minimizes pain and speeds recovery time.


The region’s leading cancer center

Our pediatric cancer experts are part of the UW Health | Carbone Cancer Center — a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. This designation means that the doctors taking care of your child are experts in cancer treatment, research and education.

Meet our team

Compassionate caregivers

Our team understands the unique needs of children with cancer or blood and bone marrow disorders. We also support the families of children in our care.

Your child’s team includes:

  • Child life specialists

  • Hematologists (blood disease doctors)

  • Mental health specialists (health psychologists)

  • Nurse practitioners

  • Oncologists (cancer doctors)

  • Pain and symptom management specialists (doctors and advance practice providers)

  • Pathologists

  • Pharmacists

  • Physical, occupational and speech therapists 

  • Radiologists and radiation technologists

  • Radiation oncologists

  • Researchers

  • Social workers

  • Specialists in all other pediatric areas that our patients might need for their care

  • Surgeons

Pediatric hematology and oncology
Interventional radiology


Learn more about our program and our patients

When your child needs hospitalization, they will be admitted to American Family Children's Hospital in Madison, Wis.

Our child life specialists help your child and family cope with any fears and anxieties. We offer:

  • Hero beads

  • Hospital school

  • Positive Image Center

  • Restoring Hope Transplant House (for blood and bone marrow transplant)

  • Spiritual care services

  • Tyler's Place (sibling child care)

Additional resources

Patient stories

At age 9, Nathan Schraven of Menasha, Wis., could already call himself a cancer survivor. An avid sports fan, Nathan was treated at American Family Children’s Hospital and achieved “rapid remission.”

Nothing but net: Nathan's recovery from acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Meet more of our patients

Scarlett Griffith with her mother, Tami, and UW Health pediatric oncologist Christian Capitini
Scarlett GriffithScarlett keeps smiling and sparkling
Scarlett shows promising signs of conquering a rare form of childhood leukemia thanks to the custom treatment plan from her expert care team at UW Health Kids | Carbone Cancer Center.
Sam Paulson (right) with his twin Maxfield
Samuel Paulson'Gentle giant' Sam fought neuroblastoma into remission
Samuel Paulson fought cancer for more than a third of his young life. He hardly seems to recall the many battles — but his parents are grateful to the UW Health Kids | Carbone Cancer Center.
Syvlia Gerlach smiling on a playground.
Sylvia GerlachSpunky Sylvia doesn’t back down from cancer
Considering the emotional tornado that swooped in on Nathan and Katie Gerlach’s family in April 2020, one can’t help but be inspired by the poise and gratitude shown by these two incredible parents.
Toddler Kinsley Judd wearing a snowman holidy outfit and dancing while in the hospital for cancer treatment
Kinsley JuddKinsley dances through life
Sarah and Ryan Judd still can’t fathom the stunning turn of events that befell their little girl, Kinsley, just after she turned one year old in June 2021.
Toddler Violet Prust smiling in a red dress between two red heart-shaped balloons
Violet PrustViolet's independence day
July 3, 2022, marked the day Violet's successful custom cancer treatment ended, thanks to the caring experts at the UW Health Kids | Carbone Cancer Center.
Joel Everts, as an adult, reunites with Sharon Frierdich inside a clinic exam room
Joel EvertsSacrificing a leg to save his life
Forty years ago, Joel Everts — then age 9 — sacrificed a leg and part of his pelvic bone to save his life not long after being diagnosed with an aggressive bone cancer known as osteosarcoma.

In the news

Dr. Becky Richards in her cancer research lab
Pediatric cancerEngineering new CAR T-cell treatments for pediatric leukemia
Every small discovery being made has the potential to advance knowledge and build ideas that could lead to clinical improvements.
Dr. Kenneth DeSantes, pediatric cancer physician and researcher, looking through his microscope
Pediatric cancerLeading new treatment research for neuroblastoma
Dr. Kenneth DeSantes is leading the only U.S. site participating in a clinical trial to advance a new combination method of treating neuroblastoma.
Portrait of an elementary age child
Pediatric cancerDelivering cutting-edge pediatric cancer care with a personal approach
At American Family Children's Hospital and UW Health | Carbone Cancer Center pediatric cancer care and treatment is tailored to each individual child's needs and unique family situations.