CDC: Illinois among top states for pediatric cancer diagnoses

CHICAGO (WLS) -- More children are being diagnosed with pediatric cancer in Illinois than any other state in the Midwest.

But doctors say a new study from the Center for Disease Control is actually very helpful.

Benjamin Burke's nickname is Benjamin the Brave. The 9-year-old leukemia patient goes in for regular tests and treatment at Lurie Children's Hospital.

But in his spare time he also raises tens of thousands of dollars for pediatric cancer research. His lemonade stands in west suburban Glen Ellyn have raised $70,000.

He counts among his friends former cancer patient and current Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

"He had cancer like me and he knows how to go through it," said Benjamin Burke.

Benjamin is one of thousands of pediatric cancer patients in the state. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, Illinois has the highest pediatric cancer rate in the Midwest.

Doctors say it's not clear why, but they say the study helps.

Dr. Stewart Goldman, who heads Lurie Children's Hospital's pediatric cancer ward says, "Anything that brings exposure to the incidence and need for better research and better treatment is truly beneficial."

Dr. Goldman says funding for pediatric cancer makes up only about three percent of overall cancer funding.

"Funding for pediatric cancer is not a priority in our country and children are getting treatments that are archaic," said Jennie Burke, Benjamin's mother.

Benjamin says he wants be a doctor to help other kids with cancer when he grows up. But that's after his first career as a baseball player, of course.

Doctors say even before the results of the study came out, they would have expected Illinois to rank pretty high for pediatric cancer. In fact, Lurie Children's Hospital is in the process of expanding their facilities and services to treat those children.

Benjamin is still undergoing chemotherapy and he has another lemonade stand planned for September. All of the money raised goes toward the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation.
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