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Pediatric and Adolescent Surgical Oncology

At Mass General for Children (MGfC), our pediatric and adolescent surgical oncology team provides compassionate care for young patients with solid tumors.
Left-right: surgical oncologist, Motaz Qadan, MD, PhD, and pediatric surgeon, Danielle Cameron, MD, MPH, with MGfC patient, Grant.
Left-right: surgical oncologist, Motaz Qadan, MD, PhD, and pediatric surgeon, Danielle Cameron, MD, MPH, with MGfC patient, Grant.
Left-right: surgical oncologist, Motaz Qadan, MD, PhD, and pediatric surgeon, Danielle Cameron, MD, MPH, with MGfC patient, Grant.

Explore This Program

Collaborative Expertise Under One Roof

The multidisciplinary pediatric and adolescent surgical oncology team at MGfC is dedicated to caring for children with solid tumors. While some solid tumors occur exclusively in pediatric patients, other solid tumors occur in both adolescent and adult patients. For such tumors, we offer a combined team approach with collaboration between our pediatric surgical and anesthesia teams and, when necessary, an experienced adult surgical oncologist. This affords the patients the combined expertise of a dedicated pediatric care team with the high-volume expertise of an adult surgical oncologist. These specific tumors include breast, thyroid, colorectal, melanoma, sarcoma, hepatobiliary, thoracic, and pancreas. Our approach ensures not only world-class care but also a personalized treatment team with a patient- and family-centered approach.

Pediatric Cancer Conditions We Treat

Below are the malignant conditions we treat through surgery:

Wilms tumor
  • Wilms tumor is a rare cancer that originates in the cells of the kidney. It is the most common type of kidney cancer in children and is often found by age 5. The most common place for the tumor to spread to is the lungs, but it may also spread to the liver, lymph nodes, other kidney, brain, and bones.
  • Neuroblastoma is a cancer that originates from the cells that help create and develop nerve cells, called neuroblasts. When neuroblasts grow out of control, they can form a tumor. Neuroblastoma is typically found in children younger than 5 years and is the most common solid tumor cancer in babies under 1.
Sacrococcygeal teratoma (SCT)
  • SCT is a cancer which may contain a variety of cell types (hair, bone, fat, etc.) and forms at the base of the tailbone. Most sacrococcygeal teratomas are benign. SCT is rare, occurring in about 1 in 35,000-40,000 births. It is more common in males than females.
  • Hepatoblastoma is a rare cancer which begins in the cells of the liver and is caused by a change in a gene. It is the most common type of liver cancer in children and is most often diagnosed in children under 5 years old. It does not usually spread to other parts of the body.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma is a cancer that originates in liver cells called hepatocytes. A rare, aggressive cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma tends to affect older children and adolescents more than young children. It is caused by certain changes in the way liver cells function, but the exact cause of these changes is unknown. At Mass General, pediatric patients benefit from the combined expertise of dedicated pediatric surgeons and anesthesiologists as well as adult liver and transplant surgeons.
Soft tissue sarcomas
  • Soft tissue sarcomas are cancers that begin in the body’s soft tissues (e.g., muscles, tendons, cartilage, fat, blood vessels, and nerves). These include fat tissue tumors, bone and cartilage tumors, fibrous (connective) tissue tumors, skeletal muscle tumors, smooth muscle tumors, so-called fibrohistiocytic tumors, nerve sheath tumors, pericytic (perivascular) tumors, tumors of unknown cell origin, and blood vessel tumors.
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS)
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common type of soft tissue sarcoma in children. It occurs when cancer cells form in muscle tissue. This rare cancer is most common in children under 10. The four main types of RMS are embryonal, alveolar, spindle cell/sclerosing, and pleomorphic.
Non-Rhabdomyosarcoma Soft Tissue Sarcoma (NRSTS)
  • NRSTS tumors develop in the soft tissues of the body, most commonly in the arms and legs, head and neck region, chest, abdomen, and pelvis. The NRSTS cancers that are most likely to develop in children are fibrohistiocytic tumors, synovial sarcoma, and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors. About 4 percent of all childhood cancers are NRSTS tumors.
Germ cell tumors
  • Germ cell tumors originate in the cells that produce sperm or eggs. They most often appear in the testes or ovaries, but may appear in other places of the body, like the abdomen. There are several kinds of germ cell tumors, including teratomas, seminomas, yolk sac tumors, and mixed germ cell tumors.
  • A thymoma is a tumor that originates in the cells of the thymus, a small organ located in the upper chest. Thymomas are caused by abnormal growths of either epithelial cells or lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). While thymomas typically grow slowly, similar tumors called thymic carcinomas grow rapidly and are more likely to spread. Therefore, patients who think they may have a thymoma should check with their doctor to determine which form of cancer they have.
Adrenal tumors
  • Adrenal tumors originate in the adrenal glands, which rest on top of the kidneys and are responsible for producing several hormones. They can be either benign or malignant, although both benign and malignant tumors can affect how your body produces hormones. Most malignant adrenal tumors are adrenocortical carcinomas.
Thyroid cancers
  • Thyroid cancers originate in the cells of the thyroid gland, which is located at the base of the throat near the trachea (windpipe) and contributes to growth and metabolism. The two types of thyroid nodules are adenomas and carcinomas. The three main types of thyroid carcinoma in children are papillary, follicular, and medullary. Childhood thyroid cancer is most common in the teenage years.
Pancreas tumors
  • Pancreas tumors originate in the pancreas, an organ that produces insulin and aids in digestion. These can be divided into two categories: endocrine and exocrine. Endocrine tumors are caused by abnormal growths of the cells that produce hormones in the pancreas, and exocrine tumors are caused by the cells that form the structure of the pancreas.
Solid pseudopapillary tumors
  • These are signs of rare pancreatic cancer that forms bump-like structures on the surface of the pancreas. Though mostly benign, solid pseudopapillary tumors may become malignant: therefore, your doctor may recommend removing these tumors even if they are not malignant. In children, these tumors tend to affect females more often than males.
Colorectal cancer
  • Colorectal cancers originate in the cells of the large intestine, rectum, or anus. Most colorectal cancers begin as small growths in the large intestine, called polyps. In children, certain genetic conditions can cause polyps to grow in the large intestine, increasing the risk of colon cancer.
Lung cancer (e.g., mucoepidermoid)
  • Lung cancer originates in the cells of the lungs. It can form in the lungs or in the space between the lungs and other organs, such as the heart. Though rare in children, certain genetic and environmental conditions can increase the risk of childhood lung cancer, e.g., if their parent is a smoker.

    Mucoepidermoid tumors are a specific type of lung cancer that originates in the cells that help produce the proteins mucus. They account for less than 1% of all lung cancers.
Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST)
  • MPNSTs are cancers that originate in the cells that cover and protect peripheral nerves. Peripheral nerves are the nerves that branch off the spinal cord. MPSNT is a rare, aggressive soft tissue sarcoma. These tumors sometimes occur in patients with neurofibromatosis.
  • Melanomas are a form of skin cancer that originate in the melanocytes, the cells that produce the pigment and give your skin its color. They are highly aggressive cancers that can spread quickly and are the most common form of skin cancer in children and young adults. Exposure to sunlight and UV rays increases risk of melanoma, as the radiation from these rays can damage these cells, causing them to grow abnormally.

Innovative Treatments for Children with Tumors

MGfC patient Hiya
MGfC patient Hiya

Each treatment plan is developed in collaboration with the patient, their family, their primary doctor, and a team of specialists from various medical disciplines at Mass General, including endocrinology, pediatric medical oncology, pediatric surgery, pathology, genetics, and radiation oncology. We provide psychosocial support for the patient and their family with dedicated child life specialists, social workers, and psychiatrists. Our adolescent and young adult cancer program provides resources and support for patients in adolescence and into young adulthood, recognizing that care extends far beyond the medical and surgical treatment of disease.

Minimally Invasive Surgery

In addition to open surgery, we offer minimally invasive surgical techniques such as video-assisted thoracoscopy, laparoscopy, and robotic-assisted surgery to remove solid tumors. These advanced approaches contribute to faster recovery time and better post-operative pain control.

Proton Therapy for Children with Solid Tumors

In addition to surgery for solid tumors, we offer proton therapy for children at the only proton therapy site in New England. This innovative approach precisely targets tumor cells, minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissues. This approach can be especially beneficial for pediatric patients, as they are more vulnerable to the effects of radiation. Proton therapy’s targeted treatment plays a crucial role in minimizing long-term adverse effects on the growth and development of children undergoing treatment.

Meet the Team

Our patients benefit from the collaborative expertise of a world-class multidisciplinary team, which includes:

Director of Pediatric Surgical Oncology

Danielle Cameron
Danielle Cameron, MD, MPH

  • Pediatric Surgeon
  • Associate Program Director, MGH Surgical Residency Program

Danielle Cameron, MD, MPH, is a Mass General for Children pediatric surgical oncologist and a member of the Children's Oncology Group. She studies the long-term outcomes of survivors of pediatric cancer.

Pediatric and Adolescent Surgical Oncology

At Mass General for Children (MGfC), our pediatric and adolescent surgical oncology team provides compassionate care for young patients with solid tumors.