Your child’s doctors may recommend treating neuroblastoma with radiation therapy, in addition to surgery, chemotherapy, or both. Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells and reduce the size of tumors. For low-risk or intermediate-risk disease, doctors may use radiation therapy when a child has tumors that are causing serious problems—such as interfering with breathing, blood flow, or important organ function—and chemotherapy isn’t helping quickly enough. All children with high-risk neuroblastoma receive radiation treatments to the area of initial tumor and sometimes to areas where the tumor has spread.
Children with neuroblastoma usually receive external radiation therapy. In external radiation therapy, a machine outside the body delivers a dose of radiation that travels through the outer structures, such as the skin and the skull, into deeper areas of the body. Because radiation can affect a child’s development, researchers are studying ways to deliver radiation effectively in smaller doses or sites or avoid radiation therapy where possible.
Our childhood neuroblastoma patients receive radiation therapy at UW Medical Center, a Seattle Cancer Care Alliance parent organization.