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  • Radiation Oncology for Children with Cancer

    Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center logo

    At the Division of Radiation Oncology, your child will receive care from many of the world's most experienced pediatric cancer doctors at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and internationally recognized pediatric subspecialists at Boston Children's Hospital.

    About the Division

    Our pediatric radiation oncologists are specially trained to give your child safe, effective radiation treatments to destroy or reduce the size of a tumor, while sparing the surrounding healthy tissues.

    Our care team works closely with pediatric oncologists and pathologists, as well as pediatric neuro-oncologists, surgeons, and neuro-surgeons.

    Radiation treatments may be done with or without other forms of treatment, such as surgery or chemotherapy.

    Our expertise

    At the Division of Radiation Oncology, your child will receive care from many of the world's most experienced pediatric cancer doctors at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and internationally recognized pediatric subspecialists at Boston Children's Hospital. For example:

    • Our radiation oncologists completed special training in pediatric oncology and radiation oncology and are entirely focused on delivering radiotherapy to young children and adolescents.
    • We use special machines called CT-simulators to map out your child's treatment plan. This helps us target the radiation therapy to the tumor, minimizing exposure to healthy tissues and decreasing your child's risk of developing side effects.
    • Our researchers are studying the side effects of radiotherapy on the vascular system in children.
    • We have access to all open proton beam protocols offered through the Northeast Proton Therapy Center.
    Why radiation therapy?

    Radiation therapy is the single most effective cancer-treating agent. Tumors are rarely resistant to radiation therapy. However, radiation therapy can also damage normal, healthy tissue. With better imaging, faster computers, and improved radiation delivery systems, we've improved our ability to localize the dose of radiation to the tumor-bearing area, sparing most normal tissues.

    Our facility is equipped with state-of-the-art technology for the delivery of highly localized radiation therapy. Currently, our therapeutic machines and technologies to treat our patients include:

    • two Novalis linear accelerators with IMRT and IGRT capability for intracranial lesions
    • a dedicated total body irradiation facility
    • two linear accelerators with IMRT capabilities for extra cranial tumors and electron beam treatment
    • two Rapid-Arc linear accelerators
    • Stereotactic body radiotherapy
    • three CT-simulator with virtual simulation capability
    • Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)
    • a conventional simulator with digital features
    • treatment planning computational and imaging computers
    • High dose rate brachytherapy
    • a specialized team for delivering anesthesia during simulation or radiotherapy treatments to children who require this.

    Our Treatment Approach

    Designing a radiation treatment plan for your child is a three-part process that begins with your family coming in for a consultative meeting with our pediatric radiation oncologist. If radiotherapy is part of your child's overall cancer treatment plan, our radiation oncologist will walk you through this process step-by-step and is always available to answer questions.


    We provide outpatient consultations at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Jimmy Fund Clinic or Boston Children's Hospital. Children requiring a hospital stay are admitted to one of the oncology units at Boston Children's Hospital.

    Treatment planning

    Once you and your radiation oncologist decide to pursue radiation therapy for your child, we'll plan the specific technique for his or her treatment.

    The first step in establishing a treatment plan is to identify the area to be treated. This "mapping" of the treatment area is done on a CT-simulator, which produces scans that help identify the best treatment approach for your child.

    In order to provide the best possible treatment options:

    • We use stereotactic techniques for brain tumor treatment to decrease the long term effects of therapy.
    • We use computerized tomography for radiation therapy treatment planning to optimize techniques, identify critical structures, and minimize toxicity.
    Radiation treatment

    After simulation is completed, we make calculations to determine the specific dose of radiation that should be given to the treatment area.

    Treatments provided by our care team include:

    • intensity modulation radiation therapy (IMRT)
    • total body irradiation
    • stereotactic irradiation in the treatment of brain tumors

    The Treatment Team

    As one of the world's leading centers caring for children and adolescents with cancer, our pediatric radiation oncologists at Children's work closely with specialists at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Dana-Farber to treat children using advanced radiation technology.

    We're part of a multi-disciplinary care team that includes pediatric oncologists and pathologists, and in some cases, pediatric neuro-oncologists, surgeons and neuro-surgeons. Our treatment facility, located at Brigham and Women's Hospital, uses the newest possible technology and our specialists individualize each child's treatment.

    • Karen J. Marcus, MD, Chief of Division of Radiation Oncology
      Karen Marcus joined the Dana Farber/Children's Hospital Cancer Center in 1989 and specializes in pediatric oncology and radiation oncology. She is an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and co-chair of Pediatric Oncology Institutional Review Board.
    • Lisa A. Moreau, MS
      Lisa Moreau is a senior research scientist in the Division of Radiation Oncology and technical director of the Comprehensive Fanconi Anemia Center and the Cytogenetics Core Facility at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Her laboratory's efforts are focused on the clinical diagnosis of Fanconi anemia and research on the functional analysis of DNA damage and chromosome analysis.

    These caregivers are dedicated to helping patients and participate in the entire treatment process to make the experience as positive as possible for you, your child, and your family.

    Clinical Research

    Our team of pediatric radiation oncologists and physicists are developing improved radiation treatment approaches that will maximize the effectiveness of treatment and maintain your child's quality of life.

    The Division of Radiation Oncology is actively involved in all pediatric oncology protocols that include radiotherapy, and are currently investigating the late effects of radiotherapy on the vascular system in children.

    Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center also provides access to all open proton beam protocols offered through the Northeast Proton Therapy Center.

    To learn more about our radiotherapy research or medical studies, please contact Karen J. Marcus, MD, by calling 888-PEDI-ONC (888-733-4662).

    Clinical trials

    Clinical trials are studies that evaluate the effectiveness of new interventions. There are different types of cancer clinical trials, such as prevention trials, early detection trials, and treatment trials. The Pediatric Radiation Oncology Program participates in several multi-center national clinical trials.


    Contact Us

    We understand a cancer diagnosis is difficult, and we are always available to offer a consultation or second opinion for your child. To schedule an appointment, call us at 1-888-PEDI-ONC (733-4662).

    To help us conduct a precise evaluation, it is important we receive a full summary of your child's initial diagnosis.

    Patients with a new diagnosis should call our Pediatric Oncology New Patient Coordinator at 1-888-PEDI-ONC (733-4662).

    Inpatient care

    Boston Children's Hospital
    300 Longwood Avenue
    Boston, MA 02115
    Phone: 617-355-8399

    Outpatient consultation

    Dana Farber Cancer Institute Outpatient Appointments and Procedures
    450 Brookline Ave
    Boston, MA 02215
    Phone: 617-632-3270

    International patients

    Families who live outside the United States should contact Children's International Center, which can coordinate the review of patient records and appointment scheduling and provide assistance with customs and immigration, transportation, and accommodations.

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  • Make an Appointment

    • For adults:
      877-442-3324 (877-442-DFCI)

    • Quick access:
      Appointments as soon as the next day for new adult patients

    • For children:
      888-733-4662 (888-PEDI-ONC)

    • Make Appointment Online
  • Find a Clinical Trial

  • Top Ranked for Children

    • U.S. News and World Report Best Children's Hospital Cancer logo Dana-Farber/
      Boston Children's has been ranked #1 or #2 for pediatric cancer care nine times since 2008 by U.S. News & World Report.