What is pediatric radiation therapy?
Radiation therapy destroys cancer cells using high-energy beams. Some radiation therapies are external (directing beams at a tumor from powerful machines). Others are internal (temporarily placing radioactive sources inside the body, close to a tumor).
Most of the radiation therapies we use to treat childhood cancers are external. We offer some of the most advanced radiation treatments available today. For example, stereotactic radiosurgery can treat some pediatric brain tumors in one session, without a single incision.
Read more about our nationally recognized radiation oncology program.
Why choose us for pediatric radiation therapy?
Highlights of our program include:
- Pediatric expertise: Young cancer patients are especially sensitive to radiation. The radiation oncologists at Mays Cancer Center have deep experience treating pediatric cancer patients of all ages, starting in infancy.
- Innovative techniques: Our doctors use advanced imaging and computer programs to map a tumor’s location. These techniques increase accuracy, enabling us to hit cancer cells precisely while protecting a child’s healthy tissues. For example, deep inspiration breath hold enables us to treat pediatric sarcoma tumors while protecting surrounding healthy tissues.
- Focus on children’s needs: Children are not small adults. We understand the unique needs of children affected by cancer. We carefully plan treatments to account for children’s growing bodies and minimize potential long-term effects. Young children go to sleep for treatment sessions, for their safety and comfort.
Pediatric radiation therapy: What to expect
We will recommend therapies that make sense for your child’s needs. We consider factors like your child’s age and the cancer’s type and location.
We may recommend radiation therapy in combination with other treatments, such as surgery. You can trust that your child’s treatment plan is the result of intensive collaboration and planning among several pediatric cancer specialists.
Our experts will meet with you and your child to explain what a treatment entails in an age-appropriate way. We will answer your questions and address any concerns before moving forward.
Young children may receive anesthesia before treatment so that they’re safely unaware during treatment sessions. We will discuss this possibility with you beforehand.
We use a special surface imaging system to track your child’s breathing during a treatment session. This technology ensures children lie in the exact position needed for maximum cancer-targeting effects. It also protects healthy tissues.