A pioneer in targeted cancer treatments, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia developed a new therapy for patients with relapsed cases of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The hospital is also studying a way to treat certain types of lymphoma and neuroblastoma with a single pill. It offered the world's first proton-beam therapy exclusively to treat childhood cancers. It also concentrates on caring for the emotional needs of cancer patients and their families, offering counseling, parent and sibling support groups, and art and music-therapy groups.
A very close second, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital gives every patient a sophisticated genetic screening that allows doctors to tailor treatment based on 225 genetic indicators. What's more, the hospital offers one of the largest pediatric bone-marrow transplant programs worldwide, including halo-identical -- or partially matched -- transplants, which it pioneered. St. Jude maintains high survival rates and provides state-of-the-art care despite the fact that it doesn't charge families for any treatment. (The cost is offset by the hospital's philanthropic support.) When a child has to be admitted overnight, the hospital even supplies free lodging to families who live more than 35 miles away.
The Childhood Cancer Drug Discovery Laboratory at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is screening more than 340,000 potential medications against childhood and young-adult cancer cells to identify new options. The hospital is also creating molecular profiles of tumor cells from patients in real time in order to guide therapy. While the initial efforts will focus on relapsed leukemias, the program will expand to include solid tumors.
It's one of a handful of hospitals in Parents' survey that offers "MIBG therapy" to treat patients with relapsed neuroblastoma. The treatment targets radiation to kill tumors while sparing normal tissues. And to ease the transition between hospital care and home care, Boston Children's has a team of nurses who make house calls within two days of a patient's discharge.
With the only center in the world dedicated specifically to the research, care, and treatment of children with lymphoma, Texas Children's Hospital will conduct research on the biology of this type of cancer and use the information to develop new approaches to therapy. The hospital also recently opened a Childhood Cancer Prevention and Screening Clinic, the first of its kind in the country. The clinic will care for children who are at an increased risk for developing childhood cancer because of genetic conditions.
Working on more than 200 cancer-related studies including the government's Cancer Genome Atlas Project, Nationwide Children's Hospital has one of the largest cancer biobanks in the country, storing information on more than 100 new cancer cases daily. It also supplies patients and their families with comfort and support through a team including pediatric psychologists, social workers, recreational therapists, massage therapists, and even an events coordinator.
Establishing one of the nation's first cancer-survivorship clinics, Colorado Children's Hospital helps patients manage some of the potential late effects that may have resulted from diagnosis, treatment, or both, including learning disabilities, low self-esteem, and infertility. It also started Youth and Pet Survivors, a unique pen-pal program, in which young cancer patients write to people whose animals also suffer from the disease.
Formerly Children's Memorial Hospital, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital boasts one of the largest stem-cell transplant programs with the country, with more than 1,000 transplants having been performed there since 1992.
Researchers at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin are studying new advances in immunotherapy, which takes advantage of a donor's normal immune system to battle cancer. They have developed a clinical trial that involves bone-marrow transplantation and infusion of donor natural-killer cells to treat high-risk cancers, such as neuroblastoma, sarcomas, and brain tumors. To ease the anxiety of a hospital stay, Children's Wisconsin has an art therapist and displays two galleries of artwork from cancer patients.
The hospital's Aflac Cancer Center offers families innovative research studies (including a recent government grant to study a bioengineered treatment for pediatric brain tumors) as well as an extensive program for long-term cancer survivors. It developed SurvivorLink, a Web-based tool for survivors and their care teams to access a summary of their cancer diagnosis and treatment as well as a plan for what care they might need in the future.
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