- DELIVERING COMPASSIONATE CARE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CHILDHOOD CANCERS
At Loyola Medicine, our pediatric care teams understand the unique needs of children who have cancer. Loyola is committed to putting patients and their families first, while continuing the search for the best treatments for pediatric cancer.
Compassionate Diagnosis and Treatment for Childhood Cancer
Loyola Medicine is committed to the compassionate diagnosis and care of our youngest patients with childhood cancer. Loyola’s pediatric oncology team is specially trained in the treatment of children and provides care in a compassionate, family-friendly environment. Our clinicians welcome families to be involved in all aspects of diagnosis, treatment and recovery; we are available to answer any questions and address any concerns you might have.
The most common childhood cancers include:
- Bone cancer, including osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma
- Brain and other central nervous system tumors
- Wilms’ tumor
Cancer types that develop in children are often different from the cancer types that develop in adults, and therefore require different treatment plans and approaches to patient care. Your child's interdisciplinary team of doctors at the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital and the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center have specialized training and experience caring for children with cancer and blood disorders. Your child’s healthcare team will provide individualized treatment options based on the most advanced science and your child’s specific needs.
Why Choose Loyola for the Treatment of Childhood Cancers?
In addition to strong clinical expertise, Loyola provides the support and guidance to help you and your child navigate the emotional and physical demands of your child's diagnosis and treatment. We emphasize individualized care, open communication and understanding during all of your child's medical care.
We also offer the following programs:
- The interdisciplinary childhood cancer survivorship clinic is designed to help facilitate the healthcare needs of survivors and families and to serve as a resource for primary care physicians.
- We have an active child life program that encourages a variety of age-appropriate activities to foster healthy adaptive skills and reduce the stress of hospitalization and medical care.
- In our return to school program, a social worker and nurse will visit your child's teachers to discuss any educational issues that might arise during treatment.
- The American Cancer Society’s special friends program pairs Loyola's medical students with children who have cancer in supportive big brother/big sister relationships.
How is Childhood Cancer Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of childhood cancer can be influenced by many factors and depends on the symptoms a child or adolescent may be experiencing. In order to provide a comprehensive diagnosis, your child's doctor at Loyola will take a personal and family medical history, ask about your child's symptoms, perform a physical exam and request imaging and diagnostic tests. These tests may include:
- Blood tests
- CT scan (computed tomography)
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
- PET scan (positron emission tomography)
Some children and adolescents may have a higher chance of developing a specific type of cancer because of a genetic predisposition. These children may need regular medical check-ups that include tests to look for early signs of cancer. Throughout the diagnostic process, Loyola is committed to the compassionate care of children and their families.
In many instances, childhood cancers result from DNA changes in cells at a young age, and are not often linked to lifestyle or environmental factors.
How is Childhood Cancer Treated?
Loyola approaches pediatric cancer treatment in a personalized way. Your child’s cancer type and medical history will be important factors in determining the best course of treatment for your child. Loyola’s pediatric oncology specialists collaborate with other pediatric specialties in order to provide your child with the most precise and advanced treatment available.
In order to provide the best possible outcome for your child, your child’s doctor may combine treatments to treat his or her specific type of cancer. Some of the most commonly used treatments include:
- Ablation to destroy tumors
- Blood and bone marrow transplantation
- Cancer surgery
- Limb-sparing orthopaedic surgery
- Radiation therapy treatments, including stereotactic radiation therapy
- Targeted therapies using medication
Loyola's interdisciplinary staff includes board-certified pediatric hematologists/oncologists, certified pediatric oncology nurses, a case manager/clinical nurse specialist, pharmacists and a pediatric clinical social worker. Specialists in pediatric surgery, pediatric neurosurgery and pediatric radiation oncology work together in order to provide the best care available to every patient.
Research and Clinical Trials for Childhood Cancer
Loyola is committed to research in the areas of pediatric hematology and oncology. Through our membership in the Children's Oncology Group, we participate in clinical trials and studies for pediatric conditions such as:
- Bone malignancies
- Brain tumors
- Rhabdomyosarcoma and other soft-tissue sarcomas
- Wilms' tumor