Radiation therapy has always maintained an important role in the treatment of childhood cancers. In the past, pediatric patients were treated with large radiation fields and relatively high doses of radiation to achieve long-term cures. Over time we have gained an appreciation of the long-term effects of radiation in the pediatric population. Today we take every step to minimize the radiation exposure of our young patients. The increasing use of chemotherapy and substantial improvements in the accuracy of radiation treatment have enabled radiation oncologists to dramatically reduce the amount of radiation necessary to cure our patients. At the same time, because of these novel approaches the long-term effects of radiation on our patients are expected to be significantly lower. At ROA, we are keenly aware of this emerging concept in pediatric oncology and carefully consider this for every patient and family we see in consultation.
A wide variety of radiotherapy techniques are currently used in childhood cancers. In some childhood cancers it is necessary to treat a large area because there is a risk for cancer involvement throughout. In this setting conventional radiation techniques are used which intentionally do not block normal tissues. A classic example of this is the central nervous system where cancer cells may have access to the entire circulation of cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, and this compartment must be treated in its entirety to ensure that all cancer cells are destroyed. In contrast, some cancers require high dose treatment to a small, localized target that may be located in close proximity to critical and/or sensitive normal tissues. In this case highly technical radiation delivery is indicated to deliver the needed dose to the tumor while minimizing any collateral radiation to the surrounding normal tissues. ROA is proud to offer numerous options for these patients including:
- Proton Therapy
- 3D Conformal Radiation Therapy
- Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy
- Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) (See also Frameless SRS)
- Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT)
- Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)
- Respiratory-Gated Radiation Therapy (RGRT)
- Pediatric Anesthesis
We the first in the area to offer Proton Beam Radiotherapy, which is a highly advanced form of radiation treatment that precisely targets a tumor, while sparing healthy tissues and organs from the damaging side-effects of radiation. Additionally, we also offer Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS), Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT), Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT), or some combination of these highly technical radiation treatments.
Your radiation oncologist considers the advantages of every treatment device and technique when deciding on the optimal treatment approach for each patient. After an initial consultation with the doctor, it may be determined that your child will require anesthesia during radiation treatment. This is often the case for pediatric patients under the age of 4, but this decision is always made on an individual basis. Our dedicated staff is highly experienced with the treatment of children under anesthesia. The Radiation Oncology Department works closely with the Department of Anesthesia to ensure that both the radiotherapy and anesthesia are administered safely and effectively.