Sarcoma in Children
Ewing, Rhabdomyosarcoma, Osteosarcoma, and Other Soft Tissue Cancers
Sarcoma treatment in children and young adults requires a team of pediatric and adult sarcoma cancer specialists who work together seamlessly. Duke Children's offers advanced diagnosis and the latest sarcoma treatments personalized to your child's specific type of sarcoma. We address all your child’s needs -- from managing symptoms and providing physical therapy for rehabilitation to ongoing emotional support and follow-up care. You get comprehensive, age-specific care that’s focused on your child’s health today and as they grow into adulthood.
Personalized Care for Your Child's Sarcoma
Sarcoma is cancer that affects connective tissue, including muscle (rhabdomyosarcoma) and bone (osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma). Each type of sarcoma is treated differently, and each child has their own specific care plan. That’s why our team approach is so important.
- Your child's sarcoma care team includes pediatric oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, radiation oncologists, and pediatric orthopaedic doctors. They work closely with physical therapists, social workers, psychologists, and pediatricians to provide your child with complete care. If needed, we'll bring in additional team members to help minimize symptoms and support you and your child every step of the way. Pediatric and adult sarcoma specialists work as a team, so the transition from pediatric care to adult treatment is seamless.
- Our sarcoma specialists are also researchers who collaborate with cancer specialists worldwide through the Children's Oncology Group, the world’s largest childhood and adolescent cancer research organization. That means your child gets the combined expertise of leading cancer researchers and has access to the latest treatments, including clinical trials. Our team will discuss potential treatments and help you decide whether a clinical trial is right for your child.
- We use a full range of tests to learn what type of cancer your child has, whether it has spread, and what course of treatment would be best. We take a sample of the tumor, either by needle biopsy if possible, or through minimally invasive surgery when a larger sample is necessary. Doctors may use imaging tests -- such as CT, MRI, bone scans, and PET scans -- take bone marrow samples, or run other tests to develop a treatment plan. We do what is necessary, but we do not subject your child to unnecessary testing.
SARCOMA IN CHILDREN
We tailor treatments to your child's sarcoma, so your child’s care plan may include more than one approach. We make sure you understand all your child’s options and help you decide what’s best. You’ll know what to expect, and you’ll have all the support and guidance you need during treatment.
Chemotherapy destroys cancer cells or stops them from growing, with the goal of preventing cancer from recurring. It is administered through an IV infusion, a pill or liquid that is swallowed, or an injection.
External-beam radiation therapy is delivered from a machine that focuses high-energy radiation X-ray beams on tumors to kill or stop the growth of cancer cells. It is used to shrink the tumor before surgery, or to kill any remaining cancer cells that were not removed during surgery. Our pediatric radiation oncologists use advanced imaging techniques to determine the exact location of the tumor when focusing the X-ray beams, to minimize damage to surrounding tissues.
Surgery to remove the tumor and surrounding tissue is often a part of sarcoma treatment. Whenever possible, our pediatric surgeons use small incisions to remove the cancer. This minimally invasive approach lets your child feel better faster. We work to maximize organ and limb function for your child. We’re one of only five centers in the U.S. named a level-1 children's surgery center by the American College of Surgeons -- a designation that recognizes our commitment to the very best, safest care for kids.
SARCOMA IN CHILDREN
Family-Friendly Support Services
You have access to a variety of services, including those of social workers and psychologists who are here to make your child’s experience as positive as possible and to support your family throughout treatment.
We offer outpatient services -- such as chemotherapy, transfusions, and lab tests -- 12 hours a day, seven days a week at Duke Children’s Valvano Day Hospital. This means your child won’t need to be admitted to the hospital just because they feel ill or need treatment on a day when your doctor’s office is closed.
You want your child to be as comfortable as possible during treatment. Our team focuses on managing your child’s symptoms and other aspects of treatment that affect your child’s quality of life. We help with pain management, supportive nutrition, relaxation techniques, and more to help your child get through treatment. We’re here to improve your child’s and your family’s well-being during treatment and hospitalization.
Teens and young adults are too old to be treated like young kids, but adult care might not be quite right for them either. Our Teen and Young Adult Program brings together the expertise of pediatric and adult cancer specialists to determine what’s best for each person, along with personalized psychological support. We customize treatment and services that consider your child’s unique needs, including support and guidance to help them cope with effects of treatment on their social life and their high school or college activities.
Once treatment is complete, you can count on us for continuing support. We offer long-term follow-up services for preventive health care, including screenings, ongoing surveillance, and care for symptoms that develop later as a result of treatment. Our doctors and nurses work with social workers and child psychologists who can offer support and assistance with school-related or personal issues. In addition, we can help your child transition to adult cancer care services when they’re ready. You’ll have resources and support to ensure your child’s long-term well-being.
When your child is fighting cancer, it’s difficult for the entire family, so we try to make it a little easier on you. Whether it's explaining a procedure, offering encouragement, or arranging fun activities during therapy or during a hospital stay, your child gets care in a welcoming, kid-friendly environment. In addition, you and your family can get emotional support and education to help you cope as your child goes through treatment and recovery.
It’s helpful to have a team on your side to help you manage your child’s care. Our social workers help you navigate the medical system and coordinate the variety of health services your child needs. They can help you work with insurance providers, connect you with resources, and help you manage the details related to your child’s care. Our nurse coordinators can help you schedule appointments for tests, treatments, and other medical visits.
Staffed by volunteers, the family room is here to make your time at the hospital a little more comfortable. You can grab a light meal, shower, do laundry, or use a computer with internet access.