Radiation Oncology Care for Children

Our radiation oncologists provide the radiation treatment for the pediatric and adolescent patients at the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Your child will receive exceptional care from many of the world’s most experienced radiation oncologists, nurses and pediatric specialists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, as well as internationally recognized pediatric subspecialists at Boston Children’s Hospital.

While no two families whose lives are touched by childhood cancer are the same, every parent wants the very best care for his or her child. Our care team works closely with pediatric oncologists and pathologists, as well as pediatric neuro-oncologists, surgeons and neurosurgeons, to custom-design a radiation treatment plan to achieve the best possible outcome for your child.

Watch the inspiring story of patient Manuel Sanchez Paniagua.

Our Expertise

Our pediatric radiation oncologists have completed extensive special training in pediatric oncology and radiation oncology and are entirely focused on delivering radiotherapy to young children and adolescents. Their world-class expertise will ensure your child receives safe, effective radiation treatments to destroy or reduce the size of a tumor, while sparing the surrounding healthy tissues.

Treatment Approach

Step 1: Consultation

Designing a radiation treatment plan for your child begins with a consultative meeting with our pediatric radiation oncologist. If radiotherapy is part of your child’s overall cancer treatment plan, our radiation oncologist will walk you through this process step-by-step and is always available to answer questions. We provide outpatient consultations at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Jimmy Fund Clinic or Boston Children’s Hospital. Children requiring a hospital stay are admitted to one of the oncology units at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Step 2: Treatment Planning

Once you and your radiation oncologist decide to pursue radiation therapy for your child, we’ll plan the specific technique for his or her treatment. This process begins by identifying the specific part of the body to be treated. We use special machines called CT-simulators to map out your child’s treatment plan. This helps us target the radiation therapy to the tumor, minimizing exposure to healthy tissues and decreasing your child’s risk of developing side effects.

Step 3: Radiation Treatment

Our facilities are equipped with state-of-the-art technology for delivering highly localized radiation therapy. Our therapeutic machines and technologies to treat our patients currently include: stereotactic techniques for brain tumor treatment to decrease the long-term effects of therapy; intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) capability for intracranial lesions; Linear accelerators with IMRT, IGRT and volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) capabilities for extra cranial tumors and electron beam treatment; stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT); and brachytherapy.

Child Life Specialists

Certified Child Life Specialists play a central role in caring for children undergoing radiation therapy. As experts in helping children and families cope with the stress of hospitalization, these trained professionals minimize emotional trauma by empowering the child to feel in control of the situation.

The Child Life Specialist works with your family to create a customized coping or distraction plan that is appropriate for your child, helps your child prepare for medical encounters, and normalizes the experience of receiving daily radiation treatment. This support includes developmentally appropriate explanations of treatment and medical equipment, as well as a tour of the facility. The Child Life Specialist also works closely with the healthcare team and provides support to the whole family throughout the duration of radiation treatment.

Clinical Research

Our team of pediatric radiation oncologists and physicists are constantly developing improved radiation treatment approaches that will optimize the effectiveness of treatment and maintain your child’s quality of life. The Brigham and Women’s Hospital Radiation Oncology Department is actively involved in a wide variety of research projects. These include exploring the unique genetic make-up of tumors, combining targeted and immunotherapy agents with radiotherapy, and employing new radiotherapy techniques. In collaboration with our pediatric oncology colleagues, we are breaking new ground in translational research for pediatric cancers.

See a list of early phase clinical trials for pediatric cancers.

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