Chemotherapy, often referred to simply as chemo, is the treatment of cancer with medications that can destroy cancer cells.  Chemotherapy works by interfering with the way cancer cells divide, preventing the cancer from spreading and helping to get rid of cancer cells in the body.  This type of treatment is often used along with other cancer treatments, including radiation therapy or surgery to remove a cancerous tumor.

As one of the nation’s top pediatric cancer centers, our pediatric oncology team offers families a state of the art, evidence-based approach to chemotherapy treatment based on a child’s diagnosis and genetic subtype.  Our specialists have devoted their careers to working exclusively with children, and are trained extensively in understanding the unique impacts of chemotherapy on children and young adults whose bodies are still developing.

Types of chemo treatment

Chemotherapy includes a variety of drugs that can be given in a number of different ways:

    • orally, as a pill to swallow
    • intravenously, directly to the bloodstream through an IV or a catheter
    • Subcutaneouly, as an injection into the tissue under the skin
    • intramuscularly, as an injection into the muscle or fat tissue
    • intrathecally, directly into the spinal column with a needle

C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital offers the full range of chemo treatment protocols, including continuous infusion chemotherapy, which is given slowly over one or more days through a pump that you carry with you.

Some children are able to receive chemo as outpatients and can go home after their treatment.  Other children stay in the hospital during their chemo treatments so doctors can watch for side effects.

Our goal is to provide our patients and families with the highest quality care. This includes administering the necessary treatments as well as providing the education and support needed throughout these treatments.

We strive to help families sort out the facts related to their treatment options and are committed to recommending the safest, most effective approach for your child's particular kind of cancer.  Your pediatric oncologist will work with you and the other cancer specialists on your care team to decide which type of chemo treatment will work best for you.

For your convenience, all chemotherapy services are provided on site at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.  

Family-centered care focused on a child’s unique needs

We know that your child’s treatment can be stressful to the entire family, and we strive to provide an open, welcoming environment. Parents are involved in their child’s treatment as active partners in their child's care and have a voice in all treatment plans.

Although chemotherapy typically is not painful, we are familiar with the anxiety that many children will experience during their treatment.  C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital offers child-life specialists to help explain to you and your child what to expect during your treatments, to minimize anxiety about the procedure and help distract them during their treatments.   

We also offer support for parents and children to you cope with chemotherapy side effects while your child is undergoing treatment.

Access to the latest novel drug therapies

C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is one of only a few pediatric centers in the country providing patients access to Phase 1 clinical trials.  Phase 1 clinical trials are used in  patients for whom conventional treatment has not worked, providing access to pivotal first-in-children, early-stage clinical trials with novel treatments before they are widely available. 

At any time, you can ask your doctor or any of our health care professionals about clinical trial participation opportunities or you can view or sign up for studies that are currently recruiting participants at