Treatment for childhood cancer varies greatly by cancer type. Treatment generally includes surgery – to remove a tumour or affected lymph glands – chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Some newer protocols also include bone marrow transplant and immunotherapy. Some children also undergo bone marrow transplant and immunotherapy treatment. Blood and platelet transfusions are also common. Most children have a Broviac or Hickman line inserted into their chest and about half also need feeding tubes inserted in their nose or stomach to prevent weight loss.
In St John's Ward in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, your child will be treated by a specialist team who will manage their cancer treatment and also any side effects that your child may have. As well as the doctors and specialist nurses your child will have access to physiotherapists, occupational therapists, audiologists, dieticians, dentists, pharmacists and psychologists. Most important to the kids - there is a play specialist available to help them through tough days in hospital. There is also a social worker to advise you of your family’s entitlements at this difficult time. Details of financial supports are also listed here. The children have access to complementary therapy, massage and reflexology by a Paedriatric Oncology nurse who is also trained in complementary therapy. There is a teacher on the ward also who will help your child to keep up with school work if he/she wishes. Please make staff aware of any issues you or your child are having and they will direct you to the appropriate help. There are many agencies and groups who offer different types of help. Please click here for a list.
Clinical trials are among the fastest and safest ways to find treatments that work against childhood cancer. Children treated in St. John’s Ward are treated with a variety of clinical trials from around the world. Your consultant will decide which trial will work best for your child depending on the type of cancer, your child’s age and other factors. Many subtypes of cancers have been discovered in recent years and new, targeted treatments are being developed on an ongoing basis. It is possible that children with the same cancer are receiving different treatment based on the subtypes of their cancer, or the timing of diagnosis.
If there is no treatment available in Ireland for your child’s cancer there may be a clinical trial open abroad. If you travel to the USA or outside the European Union, treatment will be very expensive. To see available clinical trials in USA go to: http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials
When your child is diagnosed with cancer you may wish to help them by seeking complementary therapies or alternatives to medical treatment. Some complementary therapies can be used without harm, such as aromatherapy and reflexology. However other therapies and special diets should be used with caution. If your child is receiving chemotherapy or other medical treatment from the hospital these may react with alternative treatments and cause significant harm to your child. You should consult with your child’s medical team before commencing any alternative therapy.