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Contact the Department of Radiation Oncology at:
MassGeneral Hospital for Children’s Department of Radiation Oncology provides radiation therapy to treat a variety of tumors in children using the most current techniques available. The Mass General Department of Radiation Oncology was the first proton center in the United States to pioneer proton radiotherapy in the pediatric population and has been treating children with fractionated proton radiotherapy since 1974.
The goal of radiation therapy is to destroy or shrink tumor cells without damaging surrounding healthy tissue, often together with surgery and/or chemotherapy depending on the tumor that we are treating.
Radiation plans are custom designed for each patient in order to target the tumor with maximum sparing of healthy tissue. At Mass General we have access to many types of radiation including photons, electrons, and protons. Proton therapy is the most common form of radiation used to treat pediatric patients at Mass General.
An integral part of one of the world’s most distinguished medical centers, Mass General’s Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center represents the forefront of technological advances in radiation therapy coupled with expert, comprehensive, and compassionate family-centered care. We employ image guidance with all of our proton treatments and use both passively scattered 3D conformal proton radiotherapy as well as pencil beam scanning. Proton radiosurgery is also readily available. Proton radiation therapy is unique, because more than any other type of radiation, protons allow radiation to be directed to a very limited area, which reduces potential damage to nearby healthy tissues. This is particularly useful for certain tumor types in children where long-term effects on growth and development are very important. Children’s bodies are more vulnerable to the effects of radiation, so any healthy tissue that can be spared becomes vital.
In addition to proton therapy, MassGeneral Hospital for Children also provides state-of-the-art stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), stereotactic radiation therapy (SRT), and intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). In all types of radiation, our radiation oncologists work with clinical physicists to bring the latest technological developments to our patients, from respiratory or cardiac gating, to cone-beam CT, and adaptive radiotherapeutic planning. Treatment plans are created using the most advanced computing and imaging techniques. Our radiation oncologists and physicists have access to a complete array of devices to carefully administer radiation to target tissues while minimizing radiation exposure to uninvolved tissue.
We understand that having a sick child is stressful for the child, parents, siblings and other family members. It is our goal to provide the highest quality care, while considering the unique needs of children with cancer and their families. For this reason, we have a multidisciplinary team approach. Our experienced and dynamic team includes specialists in pediatric oncology, pediatric radiation oncology, pediatric surgery, pediatric neurosurgery, pediatric neuroradiology, pediatric neurology, pediatric anesthesia, pediatric rehabilitation, pediatric nursing, social work, child life, and other support staff. Massachusetts General Hospital is home to the Katherine Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program which offers wellness services, free of charge, including music, art, massage, and acupuncture. These wonderful activities are open to patients and their families.
Pediatric Oncology: The doctors in the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at MassGeneral Hospital for Children are our close partners in caring for our pediatric patients who come for proton radiotherapy, since many require chemotherapy during radiation treatment. Our pediatric colleagues provide personalized multidisciplinary, state-of-the-art care to children of all ages.
Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital has a 12-bed private room pediatric unit which regularly treats our children who are in need of intensive inpatient rehabilitation. Commonly, children will be getting intensive rehabilitation while still getting their daily radiation treatments. The clinicians at Spaulding are experts in Posterior Fossa Syndrome as well as other neurological effects that can track with brain and spinal cord tumors. One parent at a time may stay overnight for as long as needed, and we have a welcoming visitation policy for family members, siblings and peers.
MassGeneral Hospital for Children Inpatient Facilities: Children admitted to the hospital for an overnight visit will stay in the Ellison Building at MassGeneral Hospital for Children. General medical and surgical-care patients stay on the 17th or 18th floor, complete with child- and adolescent-friendly rooms, playrooms and lounges. Each room also is equipped with a bathroom, shower and television. Laptop computers and game consoles also are available on inpatient floors. Each floor has a kitchen and laundry services for extended stays. Parents may stay overnight with their child in the room. See a video introduction to Ellison 17or Ellison 18, including who’s who on staff and accommodations for parents and guardians staying overnight with children.
The Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital is the original proton therapy center in the United States. The proton radiation program builds on more than forty years of pioneering work and experience gained by physicians, physicists, researchers and clinical support staff at Harvard University’s Cyclotron Laboratory. In the 1960’s, the Harvard Cyclotron Laboratory was one of the world’s first facilities to explore the use of protons in the treatment of patients with cancer. More than 9,000 patients were treated from 1961 to its closing in 2002. Fully operational in 2001, the new proton facility, the Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center, was made possible by funding from Massachusetts General Hospital and the National Cancer Institute. Additionally, due to the success of the proton radiotherapy program, we will be opening a fourth proton treatment room in 2017.
Treatment is available for pediatric brain tumors including:
As well as other pediatric tumors outside of the central nervous system including:
Please visit the National Cancer Institute for more information about cancer in children and adolescents.
At MassGeneral Hospital for Children, we know that the time of your child’s diagnosis and treatment is a very stressful one, and we strive to provide an open, welcoming environment. We believe that no one knows a child as well as the parent does: parents, along with primary care providers, become our partners in a child’s care and have an active voice in all treatment plans.
We believe it is important to have a comfortable place to for families to call home if they need to temporarily relocate for the duration of treatment. We understand what a stressful and overwhelming time this often is. Our team can help you find a place to stay, set up a tutor, and learn your way around Boston.
MGHfC Radiation Oncology
Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center 30 Fruit Street Boston, MA, 02114
If you're sending clinical information, please Fedex to:Pediatric Radiation OncologyYawkey Center for Outpatient CareFrancis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center30 Fruit Street, Room 107Boston, MA 02114
Urgent medical issues:
My child’s new patient appointment schedule: Please call the pediatric radiation oncology intake team at 617-724-1836.
Accommodations and transportation: Please call American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Greta Gaeta at 617-643-1742. Also please refer to the Housing and Transportation tab for more information.
How my child is coping (and concerns about other life stressors my child may be facing): Please call Clinical Social Worker Laura Dickman, LICSW at 617-726-8187 and Child Life Specialist Kaitlyn Wallace, CCLS at 617-643-9233.
How I (the caregiver) am coping (and concerns about other life stressors I am facing as a caregiver): Please call Clinical Social Worker Laura Dickman, LICSW at 617-726-8187.
Proton radiation is a type of radiation that is unique in that it can be customized to maximize the dose to the tumor while minimizing the dose to normal structures. For that reason, it is especially advantageous for treating pediatric patients by targeting the tumor while minimizing radiation to nearby growing healthy tissue. Read more about the science of proton radiation therapy here. In certain cases, your child’s pediatric radiation oncologist may decide that photon radiation is more advantageous for your child’s treatment.
For short term accommodation information (1 week or less), please visit our overnight accommodations list. Some common short term housing options include MGH Beacon House & Annex, Hospitality Homes, and nearby hotels, all of which are listed on the overnight accommodations list.
For further housing assistance, please feel free to contact our American Cancer Society Patient Navigator, Greta Gaeta, at 617-643-1742.
When you visit MGH’s Proton Therapy Center, you and your child will meet your child’s pediatric radiation oncologist, as well as other members of the treating team, such as our radiation oncology fellow/resident, one of our pediatric oncologists, our pediatric neurologist, one of our pediatric nurses, and our social worker and child life specialist. Your child will also have a CT simulation for radiation planning to design accurate radiation treatments, and other appointments for laboratory, radiology, or supportive services to help us comprehensively care for your child.
Here is a sample new patient schedule:
12 pm: MRI brain with (or without) anesthesia
1:00 pm: Consult with the radiation oncologist and resident/fellow Meet one of our pediatric nurses
2:30 pm: Meet with the social worker and child life specialist
3:30 pm: Consult with the pediatric oncologist
10:00 am: Fitting for mask; CT simulation for radiation planning with (or without) anesthesia
7-10 Days Later: Start proton radiation treatments
Prior to coming to MGH, you will receive a schedule of appointments from the Pediatric Proton Coordinator with details of all new patient appointments, as well as instructions and your team's contact information. If you have any questions upon receiving the schedule, please call 617-724-1836.
Please bring the following to your new patient consultations:
To develop the treatment plan for radiation therapy, the medical team will schedule your child for a CT simulation. The CT simulation is a “rehearsal” for radiation treatment that is completed with a CT scan. Some scans require contrast material during the scan to make certain organs more visible on the imaging.
During the CT simulation, the patient will be asked to lay down on the treatment table. The radiation therapists will make small adjustments to straighten your child’s body. Depending upon the location of the treatment, a mask or mold may be made during the CT simulation. This exact position will be reproduced daily during radiation treatment to ensure accurate and precise delivery of Proton therapy.
After the simulation, your radiation therapists may mark your child’s skin. These marks, or tattoos, are small ink dots placed superficially under the skin. These marks are used to allow the radiation therapists to position your child the same way for each treatment.
Following the CT simulation, the radiation therapists will work with the physicists and engineers to develop the treatment plan and individual equipment for the radiation treatment to begin.
Many families have questions about how to talk about radiation treatment with their child receiving treatment, as well as with siblings. The most important things are to be honest and to talk with children in a way that is appropriate for their age and developmental stage. In doing this, children can lead the conversation and ask questions they feel they need answered. If you do not know the answer to a question, that is okay. You can offer to make a list of questions with your child that you can ask the care team together.
The social worker and child life specialist will meet with your family throughout treatment. Together with you, they can provide tips on language to use when talking with your children about diagnosis and treatment.
Additionally, we have a book written by a former social worker in the Proton Center that is available to families. This book uses both pictures and text to tell the story of Proton Radiation.
Students from anywhere in the United States who are unable to attend school for medical reasons are eligible for Home and Hospital Tutoring services. At the MGH Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center, we refer families to a community agency called Signet Education, LLC for academic support while a child is undergoing radiation treatment.
Signet Education, LLC Contact name: Rachel Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 617-714-5262 Address: 1132 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138
Families are asked to contact Signet Education, LLC directly to initiate services. We also ask a legal guardian to sign a written consent form for the MGH medical team to be able to provide necessary medical/treatment information to Signet Education, LLC to facilitate access to their services.
Families can access information about Signet Education, LLC’s medical tutoring services at the following site: https://signeteducation.com/medical Parents/caregivers will be asked to complete both online forms: (1) General Information Form; and (2) Release Waiver.
Please bring the following supplies:
At MassGeneral Hospital for Children, we understand that many families require relocation during Proton Therapy. We have a variety of options when it comes to housing in the Boston area. Listed below are some options that have worked well for many of the families previously treated at MGHfC. We have included some general information and requirements for each location to help you to identify the best option for your family. We strongly recommend you begin the process of confirming housing as soon as you know your family will be coming to Boston for treatment.
Proton Center American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Greta Gaeta, LSW helps Proton Therapy Center patients and families with information regarding transportation options and support groups. If you are traveling to MGHfC from afar, Greta can assist your family with information about places to stay while your child is undergoing treatment.
Greta can also help you find resources available from The American Cancer Society such as caregiver supports, free cancer information center, and the Cancer Survivor Network, which is an online community for people with cancer and their families. The American Cancer Society can be contacted at https://www.cancer.org/treatment/support-programs-and-services/patient-lodging.html or by calling (800) 227-2345.
You can contact Greta Gaeta, LSW directly at 617.643.1742 or ask any of your team members for a referral.
Address: 250 First Ave #318, Charlestown, MA (2.1 miles from MGH) Phone Number: (617) 398-6458 Price: No Fee Accommodations: Fully-furnished and equipped private apartments with two or more beds for families of pediatric patients with a shared space for communal gatherings, programming and fun Parking: One free on-site parking spot and free shuttle to the hospital Requirements:
Address: One Emerson Place, Boston, MA (Adjacent to MGH) Phone Number: (857) 233-4178 Price: $30 per night Accommodations: Fully-furnished and equipped private apartments with two or more beds for families of pediatric patients with “The Loft” as a space for communal gatherings, programming and fun Parking: Free parking available upon request from Christopher’s Haven; once requested, parking is in the Government Center Garage Requirements:
Address: 19 Myrtle Street, Boston MA (5 blocks from MGH) Phone Number: (617) 726-7679 Price: $69-$118 per night Accommodations: Small studio with private bathroom and kitchen; MGH affiliated facility Parking: No on-site parking, parking discount available at MGH parking garages Requirements:
Address: 19 Myrtle Street, Boston MA (5 blocks from MGH) Phone Number: (617) 726-7679 Price: $40-$50 per night Accommodations: Private bedroom with a shared bathroom and kitchen; MGH affiliated facility Parking: No on-site parking, parking discount available at MGH Parking garages Requirements:
Address: Location varies by placement Phone Number: (888)595-4678 Price: $25 per night (suggested donation) Accommodations: Families are placed with host families who volunteer their home as a residence; amenities vary by location Parking: Varies by location Requirements:
The Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy center is actively conducting MGH lead clinical trials for pediatric cancer patients treated with Proton Therapy here at Massachusetts General Hospital. While all of these trials are led by doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital, a number of these studies enroll patients from numerous hospitals across the country adding to the cooperative nature of our research. Learn more.
Currently accruing trials:
Perseverance and grace are qualities that people often learn through life’s experiences. For 17-year-old Olivia Renzi, those qualities are personal keystones that allow her to transform stumbling blocks into stepping stones. Read More.
Charlie Beecher's family described the first two years of his life as joyously normal until Charlie developed belly pain. Read More.
When Ryan Schlosser received his master's degree this year, he thought of everyone who supported him along the way. Read More.
When Alex Sheehan was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 10, staff at the Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center helped him simply be a kid during a challenging time. Read More.
Tommy McGraw, 8 years old, received Proton Beam Therapy at Massachusetts General Hospital after having a brain tumor removed at their hometown hospital, Seattle Children’s Hospital.
After completing weeks of treatment at Mass General Hospital's Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center, patients celebrate by ringing the bell three times and look forward to 2011.
The story of Will Craigle and his experience of being treated at MassGeneral Hospital or Children with cutting edge proton radiation technology for a brain tumor. This video also highlights other patients as well as the science behind proton radiation therapy.
Follow a real proton therapy patient as he comes to the MGH Francis H Burr Proton Therapy Center and meets the team, and see how the radiation treatment process works behind the scenes.
Learn one young patient’s story and learn about how proton therapy actually works.
MGH is proud of our role in the past, present and future of proton radiation therapy. Learn more.
Article in Boston Globe mentions MassGeneral Hospital for Children Pediatric Radiation program.
Article in Boston Herald mentions MassGeneral Hospital for Children Pediatric Radiation program.
For years, doctors could not determine why Olivia Renzi, 17, was growing so rapidly. She was much taller than other children her age and wasn’t developing normally. In 2013, her mother knew something wasn’t right, so she brought her then 14-year-old daughter to MGHfC. Olivia was diagnosed with gigantism, a rare growth disorder, but the diagnosis taught her to tap into a source of inner strength she didn't know she had.
The use of proton radiotherapy to treat the most common malignant brain tumor in children is as effective as standard photon (x-ray) radiation therapy while causing fewer long-term side effects such as hearing loss and cognitive disorders, according to a study receiving online publication in Lancet Oncology.
Charlie Beecher's family described the first two years of his life as joyously normal until Charlie developed belly pain. When they found out it was cancer, the Beechers brought Charlie to the Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center, which helped Charlie return to his normal, happy childhood.
When Ryan Schlosser received his master's degree this year, he thought of everyone who supported him along the way, especially his care team at the Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center at MGHfC, who played a larger role in his success than he ever imagined.
When Alex Sheehan was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 10, staff at the Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center helped him simply be a kid during a challenging time.
Exuberant MassGeneral Hospital for Children patient Devin Cheeks, 14, rang the bell marking his final treatment at the Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center on May 7.
Crossing the finish line of a marathon is a feat in itself, but completing the race and supporting a good cause is a triumph times two.
After completing weeks of treatment at Mass General Hospital's Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center, patients celebrate by ringing the bell three times and look forward to 2011.
Pediatric patients mentor one another to undergo proton therapy without anesthesia.
MGH Hotline 07.30.10 Th efforts of three doctors at three separate institutions came together to forever change the life of one little boy living in a remote village in Haiti.
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