Convenience and Comfort
All radiation oncology equipment is located on site at the University of Chicago Medicine's Hyde Park medical campus, so there’s no need to go outside or be transported by vehicle to receive treatment. A convenient tunnel connects Comer Children’s to the radiation oncology department, so kids can receive their treatment and then recover in the comfort of their patient room without dealing with weather, traffic or other outside distractions.
Radiation therapy for cancer uses X-rays or electron beams, so your child will feel no pain during treatment. Although the therapy is generally not painful, the equipment can be scary to some kids. Our pediatric anesthesiologists can provide sedation to keep younger children calm and comfortable throughout their treatment.
In order to provide the safest and most effective treatment, radiation therapy is delivered in many small doses over a period of time. Most children require brief treatment sessions five days a week for several weeks.
Our patients benefit from a multidisciplinary approach that combines the expertise of many specialists in different areas of cancer care. Many members of our team focus their work exclusively or primarily on childhood cancers. Throughout the week, multidisciplinary conferences draw together experts in pediatric radiation oncology, pediatric medical oncology, neurosurgery, pathology, orthopedic surgery, pediatric surgery and diagnostic radiology. By considering these diverse areas of expertise, the multidisciplinary team can determine the best ways to treat your child’s disease.
In addition to pediatric radiation oncologist Philip Connell, MD, other members of the care team include:
- Nurses with advanced training in radiation oncology
- Licensed clinical social workers who work exclusively with children
- Physicists, who play an essential role behind the scenes, by providing the scientific expertise that is so essential for targeting tumors while avoiding healthy tissue
Research focused on improving treatment options is an important component of the pediatric radiation oncology program here. Many of our physicians, physicists, other scientists and nurses actively participate in research through the national Children’s Oncology Group. With our stature and experience, Comer Children’s often is among the first medical centers in the country using promising new drug therapies and technologies for childhood cancers.
In addition to treating patients, some of our specialists also focus on improving treatment techniques at the ground-floor level. In fact, several of our physicians and physicists were involved in developing IMRT technology and even wrote one of the first medical textbooks on this treatment tool — which has become a gold standard for treating certain types of tumors.
In addition, radiation oncology services sometimes may be integrated into protocols for clinical trials of new drug therapies. For example, a child may undergo radiation therapy to shrink a tumor before being given an investigative new treatment as part of a clinical trial here.
With their focus on finding cures for childhood cancers, some of our radiation oncologists also conduct laboratory-based research to study new drug therapies for targeting cancer cells.