How are solid tumors treated?
Once a diagnosis is made and the staging is complete, the solid tumor team at Children's Hospital Colorado will plan your child's treatment. Treatment for malignant (cancerous) solid tumors almost always involves surgery and chemotherapy (drugs used to cancer cells or keep them from growing) and sometimes radiation therapy (X-rays that kill cancer cells or keep them from growing).
A multidisciplinary team will plan your child's treatment, led by a pediatric oncologist (cancer doctor) and other specialists including pediatric surgeons, an orthopedic oncologist, a pediatric radiation oncologist, pediatric pathologists, pediatric radiologists and pediatric oncology nurses and advance practice providers. Other specialists, such as pediatric urologists, ophthalmologists and ears, nose and throat surgeons are involved if the location of your child's tumor needs more specialized care. We also have social workers, child life specialists and a child psychologist who are able to provide advice and support to patients and families coping with cancer. Read more about how we work.
Treatment is based on the specific type and stage of solid tumor a patient has. In some cases, treatment may be surgery alone.
What to expect from chemotherapy
Most cases of cancerous tumors will require treatment with chemotherapy. Many of the chemotherapy drugs we give require placement of a special type of IV called a central line. This special IV is placed by a pediatric surgeon in the operating room while the patient is asleep so that they don't experience any discomfort. It stays in place during chemotherapy, and then is removed. Different treatment protocols use different chemotherapy drugs, so once your child's treatment plan is decided, we will take time to explain what to expect from each of the drugs.
Sometimes we need some extra tests, such heart or lung function tests, before giving chemotherapy so we can monitor potential side effects. Sometimes, the chemotherapy will be given in our clinic and you will be able to go home the same day. Other times, chemotherapy will require a stay in the hospital for a few days.
What to expect from radiation therapy
If treatment for your child includes radiation therapy, you will meet our pediatric radiation oncologist early in the treatment course to find out what to expect. Radiation treatments are given at the Anschutz Cancer Pavilion, which is across the street from Children's Colorado.
With modern treatments, most children with cancer are cured of their disease. Cure rates depend on many factors, such as the age of the patient, the type of tumor, where the tumor is located, and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. In cases where effective treatments haven't been developed, where cancer doesn't respond to treatment, or where the cancer comes back after treatment, we may involve our Experimental Therapeutics Program, which offers cutting-edge therapies for more difficult to treat diseases. In some situations, treatment may also involve high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant through our bone marrow transplantation program.
Why choose Children's Hospital Colorado for treatment of your child's cancerous tumor?
Each year at Children's Colorado, we diagnose and treat more than 200 children with cancer. Our multidisciplinary solid tumor team meets on a weekly basis to discuss our new and active patients, in order to decide the best course of treatment for every patient. We also meet every other week in our tumor board to discuss all of our new solid tumor patients in a more formal way, reviewing the patient's history, laboratory findings, radiology results and biopsy results and presenting the treatment plan for discussion by the group. These continuous meetings mean your child's case will be reviewed often and any changes in his or her health will be addressed quickly in order to provide the best possible treatment.
Providers at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children's Colorado also participate in The Children's Oncology Group (COG), a National Cancer Institute-supported clinical trials group, which is the world's largest organization devoted exclusively to childhood and adolescent cancer research. The COG brings together more than 8,000 experts in childhood cancer at more than 200 children's hospitals, universities and cancer centers across North America, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
If a clinical trial through COG is available, we will likely discuss whether you would like your child to participate. If a clinical trial is not available, we do not feel that study participation is the best option for your child, or you decide not to participate, then we will provide you with the best up-to-date treatment available based on the results of the latest treatment studies.
Through our Experimental Therapeutics Program, we also participate in clinical trials through the Pediatric Oncology Experimental Therapeutics Investigators' Consortium (POETIC) and, for patients with neuroblastoma, the New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Therapy (NANT) consortium.
We are also one of the few places in the country and the only place in the Rocky Mountain Region to provide MIBG therapy for our neuroblastoma patients.