Browse by Medical Category
Contact the Department of Radiation Oncology at:
The Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center at MGH, sculpture created by Aidan for Brick Fest Live LEGO® Fan Experience, April 2019
Mass General 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 Summer 2019.
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 Mass General 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.
MGH and the Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center, LEGO®sculpture created by Declan, Spring 2019
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.
Members of Declan's treatment team, created by Declan withLEGOS®, Spring 2019
Pediatric Proton Clinical Research Fellow
Former Pediatric Proton Clinical Research Fellows
LEGO® sculpture created by Declan, Spring 2019
Proton radiation is unique in that it can be customized to maximize the radiation dose to the tumor while minimizing the dose to normal structures. It is especially advantageous for treating pediatric patients by targeting the tumor while minimizing radiation to nearby growing healthy tissue. Read more about proton radiation therapy here. In certain cases, the 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. 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 assistance, please contact the MGH Oncology Resource Specialist at: (617) 724-0295.
You and your child will meet the pediatric radiation oncologist and other members of the team, such as our radiation oncology fellow/resident, a pediatric oncologist, a pediatric nurse, our pediatric neurologist, 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 lab, radiology, or supportive services to help us comprehensively care for your child.
Here is a sample new patient schedule:
12 pm: MRI brain
1:00 pm: Consult with radiation oncologist and resident/fellow. Meet one of our pedi nurses.
2:30 pm: Meet the social worker and child life specialist.
3:30 pm: Consult with pediatric oncologist.
10:00 am: Fitting for mask; CT simulation for radiation planning.
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 these appointments, plus instructions and your team's contact info. 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, the medical team will schedule your child for a CT simulation. This is a “rehearsal” for radiation treatment that is performed with a CT scan. Some scans require contrast to make certain organs more visible.
During the CT simulation, the patient is asked to lay down on the treatment table. The radiation therapists then 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.
Also, the radiation therapists may mark your child’s skin. These marks are small ink dots placed superficially under the skin. They will allow the radiation therapists to correctly position your child for each treatment.
Following the CT simulation, your radiation oncologist works with physicists to develop the treatment plan and any equipment needed for the radiation treatment to begin. This entire process takes about 10 days and we schedule the radiation start date accordingly.
Yes. If your child will need either inpatient or outpatient chemotherapy, please let our coordinator know, so that we can schedule your child to see a pediatric oncologist during the first visit to MGH.
Many families have questions about how to talk about radiation with their child receiving treatment, as well as with siblings. It's important to be honest and 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 OK. 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. 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 U.S. who are unable to attend school for medical reasons are eligible for Home and Hospital Tutoring services. 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:email@example.com 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: https://signeteducation.com/medical Parents/caregivers are asked to complete both online forms: (1) General Info Form; and (2) Release Waiver.
Please bring the following:
You are welcome to bring your other children to Boston. Please note: if your child receiving treatment will be getting anesthesia, you will need a second adult to accompany your other children (or another child care plan). We are not able to accommodate siblings in the recovery room. Please reach out to the team with any questions or concerns.
We understand that many families need to temporarily relocate during Proton Therapy. The Oncology Resource Specialist (a member of the MGH Oncology Social Work team) can answer questions about transportation options and local lodging for patients and their families during treatment. Contact the Oncology Resource Specialist at (617) 724-0295.
Listed below are options that have worked well for many families of children treated at the Proton Therapy Center. We have included some general information and requirements for each location to help you to identify the best option for your family. You can also view the MGH Social Service Overnight Accommodations List.
We strongly recommend you begin the process of confirming housing as soon as you know your family will be coming to Boston for treatment.
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 shared spaced for programs and fun activities. Parking: One free on-site parking spot; 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 an 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 available at MGH 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 available at MGH 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:
Parking in the MGH garages is available at a special rate of $6 per day for patients here for radiation treatments. Discounted passes can be purchased from the Proton Therapy Center front desk and you must purchase a minimum of two passes at a time. Please note: this rate applies only on days when the patient has a scheduled radiation treatment. The parking rate for other types of visits (physician appointments, follow-ups, etc.) is $14 per day.
Pediatric radiation oncologists at the Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center are actively conducting clinical trials for pediatric cancer patients treated with proton therapy here at the Massachusetts General Hospital. While all of these trials are led by doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital, a number of these studies enroll patients from multiple hospitals across the country, thereby enhancing the cooperative nature of our research. Learn more.
Currently accruing trials:
Ten years after treatment, Darcie updates her former pediatric radiation oncologist on her happy, busy life today. Read More.
Claire Powers looks back on her experiences at the Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center and shares stories and advice for new patients (hint: try the Jello!). Read More.
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.
The April 2018 Family Advisory Pediatric Grand Rounds focused on the Pediatric Radiation Oncology Peer Mentoring Program, featuring three amazing families, and the staff who participate in this collaboration on a daily basis.
Checking in with brain tumor survivor Emily Hayes from Plympton, MA. Emily is using both her experiences and talents to move herself through school and her future career.
Old Saybrook Police are wearing “Shorts4Sean” for MGH patient Sean MacDonnell, an Old Saybrook, Connecticut resident.
Guitars strummed and voices sang at an impromptu concert held at the MGH Francis H. Burr Proton Beam Therapy Center on Oct. 20. Led by pediatric patients Nathan and A.J., songs filled the waiting area celebrating A.J.'s completion of a long stretch of proton beam radiation.
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.
Back to Top