POB: Treatment FAQ

What diseases are treated at the Pediatric Oncology Branch?

treatment faqsThe Pediatric Oncology Branch at the Clinical Center at NIH treats a wide variety of pediatric malignancies including acute leukemia, lymphoma, solid tumors including sarcomas (Ewing’s sarcoma, osteosarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma and desmoplastic small round cell tumor), neuroblastoma, melanoma and brain tumors and gastrointestinal stromal cell tumors (GIST).  Children with newly diagnosed as well as recurrent malignancies are treated. In addition, the Pediatric Oncology Branch has a clinical trials program for children and young adults with graft-versus host disease, and tumors related to genetic diseases predisposing to tumors, such as NF1 and NF2 related tumors or medullary thyroid carcinoma.

The NIH is a clinical research center. Will the therapy be experimental?

A common misperception is that since the NIH is a clinical research center all treatment administered to patients is "experimental." It is important to know that new agents are not offered to a patient for whom there is a known effective therapy. The major advantage to patients treated at the National Cancer Institute is that they are receiving the most up-to-date treatment for their cancer. The testing of new drugs is reserved solely for those patients whose disease is refractory to standard treatment, or who have a disease for which no standard medical treatment exists. Participation in a trial at the NIH is entirely voluntary. All new agents are screened and tested extensively before the Food and Drug Administration grants approval for use in clinical trials.

What types of treatment are offered?

There are over two-dozen active treatment protocols. Clinical protocols for newly diagnosed patients emphasize "state of the art" treatment. In addition, treatment approaches for relapsed patients include Phase I and II studies, which utilize new chemotherapeutic agents, molecularly targeted therapy, antibodies, immunotherapy and bone marrow transplantation.

Who is eligible to be treated at the Pediatric Oncology Branch?

Children, teenagers and young adults with newly diagnosed or recurrent malignancies, or certain genetic tumor predisposition syndromes are potential candidates for referral to the Pediatric Oncology Branch.

What does the treatment cost?

There is no charge to patients for services rendered at the Clinical Center as part of their participation in clinical protocols. NIH does not cover expenses for services delivered at other facilities.

Important Telephone Numbers


To refer a patient your physician should contact the Pediatric Oncology Branch by calling locally 301-496-4256, or the toll-free number, 1-877-624-4878 (8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday-Friday). Parents can also call these numbers if they are interested in determining if their child is eligible for a particular protocol.