Director: Kenneth B. Roberts, MD
The Pediatric Radiotherapy Program at the Yale-New Haven Medical Center is a national and regional resource for high quality medical care, research, and education regarding the management of childhood malignancies. As a major component of the Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center, multi-disciplinary care is delivered by a team of nationally recognized experts not just in radiation oncology, but importantly also in pediatric hematology-oncology and other pediatric subspecialties, laboratory medicine, surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedics, pathology, and diagnostic radiology, as well as support staff of nurses, social workers, and radiation therapists -- all closely integrated to optimize the coordinated delivery of clinical care.
Steady advances in therapy for childhood cancer have occurred principally through the efforts of multi-institutional cooperative group clinical trials. Yale is a member of the Children’s Oncology Group and our patients have wide access to those investigational trials from this cooperative group, representing the cutting edge in patient management.
While improvements in systemic therapy have been largely responsible for improved cure rates, “local” therapies of surgery and radiotherapy remain important components of multi-modality care.
The historical trends for pediatric radiotherapy have emphasized reducing the dose and volume of radiation delivery to the patient so that cure rates remain high, but the long term effects of therapy are reasonably low.
Yale’s pediatric radiation oncology section is able to utilize the latest as well as established technologies that include intensity modulated radiotherapy, three-dimensional treatment planning, CT-simulation, gamma-knife radiosurgery, PET imaging, comfortable patient immobilization, and brachytherapy in the care of children with cancer such that disease is accurately targeted while exposure of normal tissues to radiation is minimized.
Very young children, generally those less than 4 years of age are unable to cooperate with daily external radiation treatments. In such cases, pediatric anesthesiologists assist with out-patient sedation or general anesthesia so that children are able to sleep through therapy maintaining radiotherapy precision and avoiding any psychological trauma. Patients undergoing allogeneic stem cell or bone marrow transplantation for high risk leukemias may require total body irradiation, which is also performed in the therapeutic radiology department.
Dr. Kenneth B. Roberts, MD has led the the Pediatric Radiotherapy Program since 1993, shortly after arriving at Yale after training at Duke University. He is a member of the Children’s Oncology Group and is involved with protocol development on COG’s Hodgkin’s Disease Committee.