Dana-Farber/Boston Children's uses the latest technologies and techniques to eradicate childhood cancers with radiation therapy while sparing normal, healthy tissue. Our radiation oncologists complete training focused solely on delivering radiation therapy to children and young adults. We are actively involved in pediatric oncology protocols that include radiation therapy and are currently investigating the late effects of radiation therapy on the vascular system of children.
Our pediatric radiation oncologists minimize damage to healthy tissue by using computerized tomography (CT) to identify critical structures before treatment and intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) to deliver more localized, conformed radiation therapy. We also have direct access to all open proton beam protocols offered through the Northeast Proton Therapy Center.
To support the continuous improvement in radiation therapy techniques, the Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Pediatric Radiation Oncology Program, led by Karen J. Marcus, MD, routinely sponsors and participates in clinical trials.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA, the genetic material in a cell. When DNA is damaged, cells either stop dividing or die. It is the single most effective cancer-treating agent.
While tumors are rarely resistant to radiation, this type of treatment can also harm normal healthy tissue. Better imaging, faster computers, and improved radiation delivery systems have improved the ability to localize radiation doses, sparing most normal tissue.
Designing a radiation treatment plan for a child is a three-part process:
Radiation therapy is delivered one of three ways:
Through ongoing education, care and support, we are preparing cancer survivors for the road ahead. Learn about our extensive services for survivors of pediatric cancer.
Karen Marcus MD, Chief of Radiation Oncology, discusses the basics of radiation in the treatment of solid tumors in children.