Cancer Center

The Cancer Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) provides the newest, most advanced research and the most innovative treatments for all types of childhood cancer. CHOP has the largest pediatric oncology research program in the United States, and physician-researchers translate scientific discoveries quickly into clinical therapies.

Clinical Highlights

  • The world’s leading treatment center for neuroblastoma, the most common pediatric solid tumor outside the brain
  • One of the largest brain tumor centers in the United States, offering an endoscopic endonasal approach for some tumors
  • The first pediatric cancer survivorship program in the United States to monitor for late effects and promote health after recovery from cancer
  • One of the largest pediatric blood and marrow transplantation (BMT) programs in the United States
  • A unique program for hereditary cancers

Conditions Treated

We treat all types of pediatric cancer, including:

  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and relapsed ALL
  • Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)
  • Brain and spinal cord tumors
  • Ewing sarcoma
  • Hepatoblastoma (liver cancer)
  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Neuroblastoma (newly diagnosed, recurrent and refractory disease)
  • Neurofibromatosis (type 1 and 2) associated tumors
  • Non-hodgkin lymphoma
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Retinoblastoma
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma
  • Soft tissue sarcomas
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Wilms’ tumor (kidney tumor)


CHOP is at the forefront of research and development of new therapies to treat pediatric leukemias, brain tumors, neuroblastoma and other cancers. The Cancer Center’s research focus is not only on cancer treatments, but also on prevention and treatment of the physical and psychological complications of those therapies.

CHOP doctors and researchers helped develop the first national and international clinical trials for an immunotherapy known as chimeric antigen receptor (“CAR”) T-cell therapy for children with advanced acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

CHOP is the host site for the Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium, an organization of children’s hospitals from around the world that are advancing research by sharing a large bank of pediatric brain tumor tissue.

The Cancer Center at CHOP leads the 20 Children’s Oncology Group (COG) Phase I institutions, enabling the fast-tracking of novel therapies that require testing in children. COG is an international coalition of more than 230 children’s cancer hospitals. Many Cancer Center physicians lead COG strategy groups, biology studies, and clinical trials in leukemia, neuroblastoma, brain tumors, sarcomas, developmental therapeutics, cancer survivorship and supportive care.

Cancer Immunotherapy Program

CHOP doctors and researchers helped to develop the first clinical trial for advanced acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) using an immunotherapy known as chimeric antigen receptor (“CAR”) T-cell therapy. This is a research study for children who have leukemia/lymphoma that has recurred after treatment, and who have a type of leukemia/lymphoma that involved B cells (a type of white cell).

During treatment, physicians take the patient’s own healthy white blood cells (T cells) and modify them to target their own leukemia cells. They have treated more than 100 children and reported a complete remission rate of 90 percent on the pilot clinical trial that opened in 2012. 

Roberts Proton Therapy Center

Proton therapy is an innovative form of radiation treatment that allows for a more precisely targeted radiation dose delivered to cancerous tumors. The Cancer Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia offers proton therapy in collaboration with Penn Medicine at the Roberts Proton Therapy Center.

Radiation therapy, while helpful in treating the tumor, often comes with side effects, some of which can be very harmful to young children.

Proton therapy’s greatest benefit is that it is less damaging to the surrounding healthy tissue because it delivers most of the treatment dose to a very narrow field at the location of the tumor. The treatment is particularly beneficial for children, as less damage to healthy tissue — especially critical organs like the brain, heart, lungs and eyes — means greater chances of curing disease while limiting side effects.

Blood and Marrow Transplant Program

The Blood and Marrow Transplant Program is a national leader in the field. It is comprised of highly experienced team of BMT physicians, nurse practitioners, transplant coordinators, social workers, nutritionists, child life specialists, registered nurses, navigators and other consulting specialists — all of whom work together to provide comprehensive care for each patient

Our dedicated team has extensive expertise in autologous and allogeneic transplant. Our allogeneic program utilizes alternative donor options such as unrelated donors and partially matched related donors. All transplant-related services are available on site, including donor matching and stem cell collection and processing services. Our team reviews all referred patients to determine candidacy for transplant. We have a dedicated staff that manages our patients’ needs from the initial referral through the transplant, hospitalization, and follow-up care.

Neuro-Oncology Program

The Neuro-Oncology Program is one of the largest pediatric programs dedicated to the care of children with brain and spinal cord tumors.  We have a multidisciplinary team of neuro-oncologists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, and neuropsychologists to develop treatment plans for patients with brain and spinal cord tumors requiring complex care. 

Our brain tumor patients range in age from infants to young adults, and we customize treatment plans taking into account the age and tumor types.  Many of our patients require treatment with proton therapy.

The team often collaborates with the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Program so that patients are working to regain function through physical, occupational and speech therapies, while undergoing treatment for their tumors.  

Solid Tumor Program

The Solid Tumor Program at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia combines the expertise of specialists in related disciplines through an intensely collaborative treatment approach. CHOP's Cancer Center is one of the few pediatric cancer programs in the country with a team like this, dedicated to solid tumors.

A core group of attending pediatric oncologists works to treat children with a wide variety of solid tumors, including newly diagnosed neuroblastoma.

The core group develops comprehensive treatment plans that may include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Patients who receive solid tumor treatment at CHOP typically see members of the core group during each Hospital visit so they can build a relationship with their caregivers, and their caregivers can get to know them well.

In addition to the individual attention patients receive from their primary oncologists, they benefit from the collective expertise of the entire Solid Tumor treatment group. The full treatment group remains actively involved in the oversight of every patient's care, discussing patients' needs and treatment on a regular basis.

Featured Faculty

Stephan Grupp, MDStephan Grupp, MD

Stephan A. Grupp, MD, PhD, is the Director of the Cancer Immunotherapy Program, the Director of translational research for the Center for Childhood Cancer Research, and the Medical Director of the Stem Cell Laboratory.

Areas of Expertise: Development of engineered T-cell therapies such as CTL019, novel leukemia therapy, stem cell transplant, treatment of high-risk neuroblastoma

Christine Hill-Kayser, MDChristine Hill-Kayser

Christine Hill-Kayser, MD, is a Pediatric Oncologist in the Cancer Center with a special interest in proton therapy. She is also Chief of the Pediatric Service for the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Areas of Expertise: Proton radiation therapy

Stephen P. Hunger, MDStephen P. Hunger, MD

Stephen P. Hunger, MD, is Chief of the Division of Oncology, Director of the Center for Childhood Cancer Research, and holder of the Jeffrey E. Perelman Distinguished Chair. He is a nationally prominent specialist in children’s cancer.

Areas of Expertise:Acute lymphoblastic leukemia


Michael J. Fisher, MDMichael J. Fisher, MD

Michael J. Fisher, MD, is Director of the Pediatric Neuro-Oncology/Brain Tumor Program and Director of the Neurofibromatosis Program. He is an Attending Physician in the Cancer Center.

Areas of Expertise: Brain tumors, neurofibromatosis, optic pathway tumors, functional neuro-imaging

John M. Maris, MDJohn M. Maris, MD

John M. Maris, MD, is an Attending Physician in the Solid Tumor Program in the Cancer Center. He is an internationally recognized expert in research and developing treatment for newly diagnosed and recurrent neuroblastoma.

Areas of Expertise:Neuroblastoma

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