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.