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This type of care necessitates having a medical and technical team with enormous experience treating children with radiotherapy. In addition, state-of-the-art planning and treatment equipment, including the Varian TrueBeam linear accelerator, has recently been installed. We pair this with a compassionate, flexible and family-centered approach to care for your child.
The conventional external beam, with either photons or electrons, can be employed when the diseased tissue is either very superficial or involves an entire region of the body. Some examples include cancers of the extremities, cranio-spinal treatment for medulloblastoma, whole brain irradiation for leukemia and certain diseases that affect tissues throughout a section of the lungs, abdomen or pelvis.
When solid tumors are much smaller than the body part in which they are found, radiation can be delivered in a way that conforms to the shape of the tumor, sparing nearby normal tissues. We develop a treatment plan based on CT or MRI images of the affected area. With this ability to visualize a tumor and other structures three-dimensionally, we can construct multi-beam treatment plans tailored to the shape of the tumor. Normal tissues more than 2 centimeters away from the tumor are kept below the dose that would cause injury.
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) is particularly useful for or tumors that are close to normal tissues, especially whose tolerance for radiation is much lower than the dose prescribed to treat the tumor. In state-of-the-art therapy, we employ a precision radiation beam-shaping device called a multi-leaf collimator (MLC), which more accurately conforms the radiation beam to the shape of the child’s tumor than previous methods.
The Radiation Oncology Program co-developed the planning computer used in IMRT with Nucletron Corp, Netherlands. Using this sophisticated software, the radiation oncologist specifies the dose the child’s tumor must receive, as well as the dose that normal tissues cannot exceed, protecting the surrounding area. The planning computer calculates the shape-changes that the MLC must make during therapy to precisely meet the doctor's dose requirements. In January 2001, we became the first center in the world to treat a patient with this technology.
We provide a complete program of Total Body Irradiation (TBI) for treatment of leukemias, in conjunction with bone marrow transplantation (BMT). Patients treated with TBI typically have such conditions as lymphomas, chronic myelocytic leukemia and acute non-lymphocytic leukemia.
In brachytherapy, radiation sources (often called “seeds” or radioisotopes) are implanted directly into or near a tumor, sometimes in combination with Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), when appropriate. This advanced therapy allows us to deliver an effective, targeted dose of radiation while sparing surrounding tissue.