Young Adult Cancer Center
Treatments and Services

Young Adult Cancer Treatments

Young adults (ages 15-39) respond differently to cancer therapy than young children and older adults. Your side effects are different, and you have different emotional needs. Our specialized program addresses these unique needs.

Our team will create a customized care plan designed to treat the cancer while causing as few side effects as possible. The plan will include comprehensive wellness services that address your emotional, psychosocial and spiritual needs. As one of the nation’s largest centers for innovative cancer therapies, our young adult patients can benefit from many cutting-edge treatments and services including those listed below and many more.

Innovation and State-of-the-Art Cancer Therapy

Cincinnati Children’s is a leader in developing cutting edge cancer therapies for patients with the hardest-to-treat cancers. We were the first to pioneer tumor and leukemia precision medicine DNA sequencing to guide the care of our high-risk and relapsed patients.  We use novel drug therapies, including small molecule anticancer agents and drugs that slow down tumor growth. We have a leading program to target cancers and leukemias with immune and cellular therapies.


Chemotherapy uses one or more anti-cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells or slow down their growth. The care team customizes the chemotherapy regimen based on each patient’s diagnosis and needs. Sometimes, experimental chemotherapy offers the most promise for a cure. In these cases, we partner with national research organizations and drug companies to bring these therapies to our patients.

Precision Radiation Therapy

Our leading-edge radiation therapies deliver high doses of radiation while sparing healthy tissue. They include:

  • Proton therapy, is one of the most precise and advanced forms of radiation therapy available in the world today. In the hands of the expert cancer team at Cincinnati Children’s, specialized pencil beam technology destroys cancer cells while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissues and organs. Our Proton Therapy Center is one of only two such centers in the world owned by a children’s hospital.
  • Shaped-beam stereotactic radiation therapy delivers high doses of radiation using custom-shaped beams.
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy allows physicians to modulate the intensity of radiation beams and deliver radiation that conforms to the tumor’s shape.

Fertility Preservation

Cancer and chemotherapy can affect fertility and planning ahead can make a big difference down the road. Before your treatment begins, we’ll provide you with a fertility consultation to help you understand your fertility risk and whether it might be a good idea to think about fertility preservation options sooner rather than later. This consult is offered through a partnership with the Cincinnati Children’s Comprehensive Fertility Care and Preservation Program, one of the country’s first programs to focus on fertility preservation in patients receiving intensive therapies for pediatric cancers

Bone Marrow Transplantation

Our Bone Marrow Transplantation Program team has performed more than 2,300 bone marrow transplants, making us one of the most experienced pediatric transplant programs in the world. We are an international leader in the development of new transplant regimens for patients with leukemia, lymphoma and myelodysplasia.

Our bone marrow transplantation team specializes in innovative approaches to transplant therapy. The team:

  • Has developed transplant procedures that are now the standard of care in 240+ cancer centers throughout North America
  • Has performed transplants on more than 100 children a year, with a 96% survival rate—significantly higher than the national average
  • Has extensive experience in performing complex stem cell transplants from unrelated donors
  • Utilizes reduced-intensity preparative regimens, which offer lower doses of chemotherapy with the potential for fewer side effects
  • Pioneered new applications for bone marrow transplant, such as transplant for autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome

Novel Immunotherapies

Immunotherapy is designed to help the body’s own immune system fight cancer cells. Cincinnati Children’s was one of the first pediatric hospitals to provide CAR T-cell therapy, an exciting new immunotherapy for patients with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). This groundbreaking therapy offers hope to patients with ALL who have a treatment-resistant form of the disease, and those who have relapsed after bone marrow transplant. Learn more about CAR T-cell therapy.

Targeted Antibody Therapies

Targeted antibody therapies are drugs that bind to proteins found on the surface of cancer cells. Different targeted antibody therapies use different methods to attack the cancer cell.  Some of the targeted antibody therapies we offer include:

  • Antibody-drug conjugates: These targeted therapies have an antibody bound to a chemotherapy drug.  The antibody binds to the cancer cell surface causing the chemotherapy drug to be taken inside the cancer cell.  This damages the cell and causes cell death.  These therapies have fewer side effects than typical chemotherapy because they are targeted to the cancer cell.  Examples include inotuzumab ozogamicin for the treatment of patients with newly diagnosed high-risk or relapsed B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) and brentuximab vedotin for patients with newly diagnosed or relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma and anaplastic large cell lymphoma
  • Monoclonal antibodies: These antibodies bind to the cancer cell and direct the immune system response to recognize and destroy the cancer cells.  Examples include daratumumab for the treatment of relapsed T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), rituximab or obinutuzumab for the treatment of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and pembrolizumab or nivolumab for the treatment of various tumors including Hodgkin lymphoma and primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma.
  • Bi-directional antibodies: These antibodies bind to the cancer cell and to normal T cells at the same time and direct the T cells, a critical component of the immune system, to recognize and destroy the cancer cells.  An examples includes blinatumomab, a CD19-CD3 bi-directional antibody for the treatment of B-ALL.  Blinatumomab is currently being investigated in a clinical trial with another targeted antibody, nivolumab, to try to improve the effectiveness of blinatumomab.

Advanced Surgical Procedures in the BrainSUITE

The BrainSUITE is an operating room with highly specialized equipment that helps surgeons be more precise in locating and removing brain tumors. This can preserve areas of the brain that control important functions, such as speech and movement. Cincinnati Children’s was the first children’s hospital in the world to use this system.

During surgeries on the brain, computer-generated images automatically match information from diagnostic tests with the patient’s position on the operating table. This allows the neurosurgeon to see the exact position of the surgical instruments in relation to the targeted brain tissue.

Novel Drugs and Drug Combinations

Cincinnati Children’s offers one of the nation’s largest portfolios of new anticancer therapies and drug combinations for patients with relapsed or refractory malignancies. Cincinnati Children’s was one of the lead centers to evaluate the anticancer targeted drug larotrectinib™. This drug targets a cancer-specific genetic change found across a large number of otherwise difficult-to-cure malignancies. Brian Turpin, DO, from reported a 93% response rate to larotrectinib™ in pediatric patients with TRK fusion-positive tumors. This finding holds promise to transform the treatment for these cancers. 

Targeted Injection Radiation Therapies

Cincinnati Children’s is the first pediatric cancer center to offer treatment with Lutathera. This drug targets a receptor found on the cancer cell and then delivers radiation that can kill the tumor cell while causing minimal damage to surrounding tissues. This drug is delivered through an IV. Our research is examining if this therapy will target neuroendocrine tumors and nasopharyngeal carcinomas, and others such as Ewing’s sarcoma.


New research suggests that radiation therapy may “unmask” some cancers so they can be recognized and killed by the immune system. Our team has developed a new clinical trials that combine radiation with drugs stimulate a patient’s own immune cells to potentially recognize and target cancer cells. This type of treatment is called combination immunotherapy with radiation therapy. We are testing it in a clinical trial for patients with relapsed or difficult-to-treat sarcomas, liver and kidney tumors, lymphomas, and other cancers.

Limb-Sparing and Reconstructive Surgical Expertise

Our team offers the most advanced techniques in limb-sparing and limb reconstruction surgeries such as targeted muscle reinnervation and free functional muscle transfer.

Our pediatric orthopaedic and plastic surgeons also offer unique reconstructive surgery options to preserve function and restore the appearance of tissue that has been affected by sarcoma or sarcoma therapy.

Novel Surgical Procedures

Our team provides cutting-edge surgeries specifically for patients with sarcoma. These include sentinel lymph node biopsies, which help doctors accurately stage cancer. Then the surgeon injects heated chemotherapy, known as hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), directly to cancer cells in the abdomen.

A Focus on Wellness

Our Patient and Family Wellness Center has a whole team of people ready to support you − psychologists, social workers, chaplains, music therapists and holistic health specialists. They understand and can provide resources so you can live your life to the fullest in the midst of cancer treatment.

The Patient and Family Wellness Center team can help you:

  • Cope with the anxiety that often comes from cancer treatment
  • Find ways to relax and recharge
  • Find spiritual refreshment, whatever your religious background may be
  • Improve sleep, reduce pain and manage stress through activities such as massage, yoga and reflexology

You will even have your own social worker, who will be your point person throughout treatment to make sure you are getting the wellness resources you need. The social worker will provide an initial assessment and work with the multidisciplinary team to create a customized plan of care, addressing new needs as they arise.

The fertility preservation team, which includes subspecialists in gynecology, oncology, and urology, can help you understand the strengths, limitations, successes and science behind each option.

Cardio-Oncology Program

The Cardio-Oncology Program offers a unique multidisciplinary approach to young adult patients with cardiovascular disease as a result of treatment for cancer and blood disorders. Our hematologists, oncologists and stem cell transplant specialists collaborate with a dedicated team of cardiology providers to ensure continuity of care for patients throughout their treatment course and beyond.

Cancer Survivorship Center

Sometimes cancer and cancer treatment can create health problems later in life. Our Cancer Survivorship Center provides lifelong follow-up care. Our Cancer Survivorship Center offers long-term to any survivor of pediatric cancers, including adults and those who were not originally treated at Cincinnati Children’s  This helps detect and treat any potential problems early. The team also provides survivors with the education and resources they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.