THE SITE

For parents, one of the most frightening words that can be associated with your child is "cancer." A new Web site, www.curesearch.org, sponsored by the Children's Oncology Group and the National Childhood Cancer Foundation, aims to help overwhelmed families get information on childhood cancers more easily.

THE BACKGROUND

Every year, about 12,500 U.S. children and teens are diagnosed with cancer. But very few of the hundreds of Web sites devoted to helping cancer patients focus on kids. The new site, promoted in TV, radio and print ads prepared by the Ad Council, offers information about specific cancers customized by the age of a child.

THE GOOD

Because it presents a big-picture perspective, the site is particularly useful for parents who have just received a diagnosis. General overviews touch on such issues as treatment options, types of tests for specific cancers, sources of possible financial aid and the names of hospitals in specific areas.

THE BAD

Information that parents may crave most -- such as new treatments -- is too vague. Clinical trial listings are incomplete; searches for further information often yield the message "summary currently in development." Other sites, such as that of the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org), may have more detailed information.

THE RESULTS

The site offers some valuable guidance to families, friends and teachers casting about for where to start and how to proceed when a child gets cancer. But it needs improvements. Its developers say some are forthcoming: More information will be added in six to eight months. A Spanish translation is slated for next year.