Tumour Radiation on Children

Radiation therapy is an important building block for long-term healing in the concept of cancer therapy during childhood. It provides an important opportunity where the limits of operational capabilities are exceeded. Unfortunately, children are particularly sensitive to the occurrence of radiation-induced side effects and secondary tumors due to the still-developing tissue. Therefore, not only healing the tumour but also the quality of life after cancer therapy is currently an important goal.

To provide modern radiation techniques such as proton therapy, especially during childhood, is a promising instrument as the physical properties of protons allow a very limited and well-controlled dosing. Here, the normal tissue is largely spared and the risk of negative consequences of therapy and secondary tumours are reduced. It is usually very well tolerated and allows for the continuation of daily life activities such as school, sports and friends.

At the WPE, the treatment of children is our priority. Currently, brain tumours and sarcoma tumours in the skull base region and in the region of the spine and pelvis are mostly treated. Since January 2015 and for the first time in Europe, we are able to also routinely offer the so-called craniospinal proton therapy to children under general anesthesia, i.e. the radiation of the entire central nervous system.

Behandlung von Krebserkrankungen bei Kindern
Behandlung Kind

Practical Procedure

Proton therapy is carried out as in adults usually five times a week over a period of about four to seven weeks. Dealing with children as patients of course requires a lot of attention and care.

Before therapy, the parents and/or child talk with the radiation oncologist and eventually the anesthesiologist about the entire process and the opportunities and potential risks of the therapy. What is also discussed is what may enhance the child’s daily sessions: Music CD’s, stuffed animals or the voice of Mom or Dad through the microphone.

As with adults, it is important that children lie very still during treatment. If the children are very young, this is often not possible. In this case, the planning and treatment can be done under anaesthesia which is performed by our experienced Children’s Anaesthetist. From the age of five years, however, this is no longer necessary. It often takes time, patience and empathy to repeatedly motivate the young patients to cooperate and to positively prepare them for the situation. With our knowledge and experience, we are there for all families to guide them along the way.

Patients often travel from afar to visit us. Children always are accompanied by an adult. Therefore, accommodations as well as a pediatric medical care (often including chemotherapy) are required or in very young children, a daily anaesthesia must be prepared. To ensure these points, our team work closely with the children’s hospital and other facilities of the University Hospital Essen.

Our patient care team supports you with all the preparations.

By the way: These young children show so much patience which of course has to be rewarded. At the end of each treatment, the children receive a pearl and at the end of the complete treatment series, they will have enough for a beautiful pearl necklace which they are allowed to take home.