Pediatric cancer and blood diseases

We care for your child as if they are our own

We add compassion to our expertise. Our team considers you and your child part of our family. We are by your side every step of the way. From diagnosis through treatment and into adulthood, we care for your child as if they are our own.
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Programs and research

Getting kids back to being kids

Kids shouldn’t have to worry about being sick. At UW Health, we 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 that 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 over 50 different 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.

he UW 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

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

Learn more about MIBG treatment

You may wish to get a second opinion for a child diagnosed with cancer or a blood or bone marrow disorder. At the UW Carbone Cancer Center and American Family Children’s Hospital, we offer second opinions on diagnoses and treatment plans.

Call (608) 890-8070 to schedule a second opinion appointment.

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. At the UW Carbone Cancer Center and American Family Children’s Hospital, we provide 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 team works across the UW Carbone Cancer Center and American Family Children’s Hospital to treat these and virtually all other childhood cancers, blood disorders and tumors.

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 test 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

  • Hemophilia (A and B)

  • Immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) – This condition may lead to excessive bruising and bleeding, because of low levels of the 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.

  • 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 disease

  • 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 not to produce enough enzymes to help gather nutrients from food, and your child may 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) – ATRT is a tumor that begins in the brain or spinal cord. It is a fast growing cancerous tumor, but very rare.

  • Diffuse infiltrative pontine glioma (DIPG)

  • Craniopharyngioma – Craniopharyngioma is 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.

This is one of the most common cancers we treat.

Learn more
  • Ataxia-telangiectasia – Ataxia-telangiectasia is a 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.

  • 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.

  • Hepatoblastoma

  • Langerhans' cell histiocytosis (LCH)

  • 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

  • Neurofibromatosis (Types 1 and 2) – Neurofibromatosis is an inherited disorder where tumors form on nerve tissue. These tumors may form anywhere in the nervous system. There are three types: Type 1 usually appears in childhood and 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 may also cuase Schwannomatosis, which usually affects people after age 20.

  • 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

  • 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 where 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 may also 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 may occur at birth.

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

  • 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.

  • Wilms tumor

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.

This treatment removes excess iron from your child’s blood. We may 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.

Your child’s care team may administer medications like antibiotics, pain-relievers and steroids throughout your child’s treatment.

This treatment uses radiation to kill cancer cells. MIBG is one type of radiation therapy offered at UW Health.

Our expert doctors may 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.

Locations

Wisconsin’s leading cancer center

Your child’s doctors at American Family Children’s Hospital are part of the UW 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.

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  • American Family Children's Hospital - Pediatric Hematology and Oncology
    • 1675 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 263-6420
    • Closed now
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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)

  • Nurse practitioners

  • Oncologists (cancer doctors)

  • Pain management specialists

  • Pathologists

  • Physical, occupational and speech therapists 

  • Radiologists and radiation technologists

  • Radiation Oncologists

  • Researchers

  • Social workers

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

  • Surgeons

Our providers

Patient stories

Rapid remission

At age 9, Nathan Schraven of Menasha, Wisconsin, 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