Pediatric Cancer Treatments
Count on University Health cancer doctors to provide the most advanced, thorough treatments available for your child, adolescent or young adult cancer.
Individualized Cancer Treatments
Your cancer doctor will create a customized cancer treatment plan to manage your child’s cancer. The treatment plan considers:
- Specific cancer type
- Cancer’s location
- How much cancer there is (size)
- How far cancer has spread (stage or grade)
Ask your doctor to explain the location, size and stage of your child’s cancer. Understanding this information can help you make informed decisions about treatment options.
Types of Pediatric Cancer Treatments
Your child’s cancer type may require one kind of treatment or a combination of treatments.
Surgeons can sometimes treat cancer by removing it from your child’s body. Depending on the type of cancer and its stage, a surgeon may remove the entire cancer tumor and surrounding tissue or part of the tumor and tissue. Removing tumors can reduce the effects of cancer on your child by easing cancer symptoms and reducing pain.
Brain and Spinal Tumor Surgery
Rely on our highly skilled pediatric neurosurgeon and orthopedic surgeon to treat brain and spinal tumors. Orthopedic oncologists operate on bone and soft tissue.
These services are not available at other health care providers in San Antonio.
Transplants for Liver Cancer
If surgeons cannot remove a large liver tumor, the best treatment for your child may be liver transplantation. Rest assured our pediatric liver transplant program is top-notch. It’s one of the largest programs in Texas and has knowledgeable, experienced transplant surgeons.
Chemotherapy (chemo) is a common treatment for cancer. It treats childhood cancer by using medications to:
- Kill fast-growing cancer cells
- Stop or slow the growth of cancer cells
- Shrink tumors to ease pain
Your child may receive chemotherapy:
- Topically, a cream rubbed into the skin
- Orally, taken by mouth as a pill or liquid
- By an injection, or shot, into a part of the body
- By infusion through an IV into a vein
Immunotherapy, sometimes called biological therapy, helps your immune system fight cancer. It works by increasing the immune system’s response to cancer cells and its ability to detect and attack them. Talk to your cancer care team about which type of immunotherapy your child will receive.
Get cancer treatment that targets how cancer cells grow and survive. Targeted therapy drugs act on specific features of your child’s cancer cells to stop them from spreading. Cancer doctors use targeted therapies to treat a variety of pediatric cancers.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to destroy or damage cancer cells. Our pediatric radiation oncology doctors have advanced training in radiation to treat cancer while avoiding healthy tissue for better long-term outcomes for your child.
There are two main types of radiation therapy:
- External beam therapy – Directs radiation beams at a tumor from outside the body
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) – Matches the radiation dose to the shape of the tumor to cover more cancer cells
- Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) – Takes pictures of your tumor using advanced imaging to make sure the radiation beam reaches the right spot
- Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) – Targets tumors with high doses of radiation
- Stereotactic radiosurgery (radiotherapy) – Uses targeted radiation to treat tumors in a non-surgical method
- Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy) – Places a high-dose radioactive seed as close to the tumor as possible so it can send out radiation for a while
A radiation oncologist plans your child’s treatments, including which type of radiation to use, the amount of radiation, and the number of treatments. Depending on the type of cancer, your child may have radiation therapy with other treatments.
Your child’s radiation therapy treatments take place at Mays Cancer Center, home to the UT Health MD Anderson Cancer Center. The center is a partnership between UT Health San Antonio and MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Treatment Side Effects
Treatment affects every child, adolescent and young adult differently. Talk to your cancer care team about the side effects your child may experience based on his or her type of treatment, dose and location of cancer. Your care team may recommend complementary and alternative medicine to ease side effects.
Clinical trials may be a treatment option when standard medical treatments are ineffective in stopping your child’s cancer.