Our innovative approach
Designing a radiation treatment plan for your child is a three-part process that begins with your family coming in for a consultative meeting with our pediatric radiation oncologist. If radiotherapy will be included as part of your child's overall cancer treatment plan, our radiation oncologist will work with physicists at Brigham and Women's Hospital to design your child’s treatment plan.
Our radiation oncologist will walk you through this process step-by-step and is always available to answer any questions.
We provide outpatient consultations at either Boston Children's Hospital or at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Jimmy Fund Clinic. Patients requiring a hospital stay are admitted to one of the oncology units at Children's. Click here for contact information.
Once you and your radiation oncologist decide to pursue radiation therapy for your child, we’ll plan the specific technique for his treatment.
The first step in establishing a treatment plan is to identify the area to be treated. This "mapping" of the treatment area is done on special machines that are called simulators or CT-simulators. These simulators mimic the treatment machine, but instead of producing a high power radiation beam (as it does in treatment), it takes x-ray or CT films that help identify the best treatment approach for your child.
In order to provide the best possible treatment options:
- We use stereotactic techniques for brain tumor treatment to decrease the long term effects of therapy.
- We use computerized tomography for radiation therapy treatment planning to optimize techniques, identify critical structures and maximize efficacy and minimize toxicity.
These simulators are located at Brigham and Women's Hospital. After simulation, our team will be ready to deliver treatment.
After simulation is completed, we make calculations to determine the specific dose of radiation that should be given to the treatment area.
In addition to the radiation oncologist, our radiation treatment team includes pediatric-trained nurses and Child Life specialists. These care givers are dedicated to helping patients and participate in the entire treatment process to make the experience as positive as possible for you, your child and your family.
Treatments provided by our care team include:
- intensity modulation radiation therapy (IMRT)
- total body irradiation
- stereotactic irradiation — used in the treatment of brain tumors
In some cases, very young children may need to be sedated before receiving their radiation treatment. If this step is required, our general anesthesiologists will give your child medication to calm or put your child to sleep for the treatment session.
Our team of pediatric radiation oncologists and physicists are developing improved radiation treatment approaches that will maximize the effectiveness of treatment and maintain your child's quality of life.
The Division of Radiation Oncology is actively involved in all pediatric oncology protocols that include radiotherapy, and are currently investigating the late effects of radiotherapy on the vascular system in children.
Dana-Farber/Children's Hospital Cancer Center also provides access to all open proton beam protocols offered through the Northeast Proton Therapy Center.
If you are interested in learning about our radiotherapy research or medical studies, please contact Karen J. Marcus, MD, by calling (888) PEDI-ONC (888-733-4662).