Radiation Oncology (Radiation Therapy) Overview

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Radiation oncology (also known as radiation therapy) at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center plays a significant role in childhood cancer care. Our pediatric radiation oncologists are specially trained to give your child safe, effective radiation treatments, during which high doses of radiation destroy or reduce the size of a tumor while sparing the healthy tissues and organs that surround it.

Radiation treatments may be done with or without other forms of treatment, such as surgery or chemotherapy.

Our expertise

At Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s, your child will receive care from many of the world’s most experienced pediatric cancer doctors at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and internationally recognized pediatric sub-specialists at Boston Children's Hospital.

  • Our radiation oncologists completed special training in pediatric oncology and radiation oncology and are entirely focused on delivering radiotherapy to young children and adolescents.

  • 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.

  • Our researchers are studying the side effects of radiotherapy on the vascular system in children.

  • We have access to all open proton beam protocols offered through the Northeast Proton Therapy Center.

Radiation therapy delivers a high dose of radiation in an effort to destroy or reduce a tumor’s size while sparing the normal surrounding tissues and organs.

As one of the world's leading centers caring for children and adolescents with cancer, our Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center pediatric radiation oncologists work closely with specialists at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to treat children using advanced radiation technology.

We’re part of a multi-disciplinary care team that includes pediatric oncologists and pathologists, and in some cases, pediatric neuro-oncologists, surgeons and neuro-surgeons. Our treatment facility, located at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, uses the newest possible technology and our specialists individualize each child’s treatment.

For our very young patients, we also offer specialized pediatric anesthesia procedures during simulation or radiotherapy treatments.

Our staff radiation oncologists are entirely focused on delivering radiotherapy to young children and adolescents, and they’ve completed special training in pediatric oncology and radiation oncology.

Why radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy is the single most effective cancer-treating agent. Tumors are rarely resistant to radiation therapy. However, the effectiveness of radiation therapy is limited because it can damage normal, healthy tissue. With better imaging and faster computers, coupled with improved radiation delivery systems, we’ve improved our ability to localize the dose of radiation to the tumor-bearing area, sparing most normal tissues.

Our facility is equipped with state of the art radiation therapy technology for the delivery of highly localized, "conformal," radiation therapy. Currently, our therapeutic machines and technologies to treat our patients include:

  • two Novalis linear accelerators with IMRT and IGRT capability for intracranial lesions
  • a dedicated total body irradiation facility
  • two linear accelerators with IMRT capabilities for extra cranial tumors and electron beam treatment
  • two Rapid-Arc linear accelerators
  • Stereotactic body radiotherapy
  • three CT-simulator with virtual simulation capability
  • Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)
  • a conventional simulator with digital features
  • treatment planning computational and imaging computers
  • High Dose Rate Brachytherapy
  • a specialized team for delivering anesthesia during simulation or radiotherapy treatments to children who require this
Learn more about radiation therapy at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.
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