Radiation Therapy for Children

Many children with cancer go on to live long and healthy lives after radiotherapy.  For successful treatment, it is very important to make sure that children are positioned in the most accurate way each day and that they do not move out of position while the Radiation beam is on.  This will give them the most accurate treatment and minimize long term side effects of treatment.

AlignRT® has a number of benefits for children being treated with radiation therapy.  Like adults, it is important that during radiation treatment children are positioned in exactly the same place each day.  With young children, this can be challenging, and often anesthesia is used to ensure that the child does not move during treatment.  While minimal motion is essential, delivering anesthesia can add additional time and stress to the radiation treatment.  Because AlignRT ® will track and monitor the child during treatment, pausing the radiation treatment if the child moves, using this technology may reduce or eliminate the need for anesthesia in some patients.  For those children that are old enough not to be anesthetized, it is common to use devices known as ‘immobilization devices’ to help reduce movement during treatment.  These devices can be uncomfortable for the child.  Using a tracking system, like AlignRT ® allows the child to be monitored during treatment, ensuring that the beam is only on when the child is in the correct position.  This means that the use of these uncomfortable immobilization devices can be reduced, allowing for a more pleasant radiation experience for the child.

Historically, for all patients undergoing Radiation treatment, skin marks and tattoos have been used to help the therapists set the patient up in the correct position each day.  Tattoos are small dots on the patient’s skin that, once administered, are permanent.  Skin marks are drawn with a sharpie pen or paint pens and are temporary marks used for the duration of the treatment.  The tattoos may leave a permanent reminder of the cancer while the skin marks are often visible when wearing certain clothing and must be kept intact during the course of radiation treatment. Through the use of AlignRT, Children’s Hospital LA, has stopped using tattoos and skin marks on nearly all its pediatric patients — allowing children and parents one less thing to worry about when undergoing Radiation treatment.