Childhood Cancers - The Siteman Approach

Siteman Kids

Siteman Kids at St. Louis Children’s Hospital is the largest and best-ranked pediatric cancer center in the region, according to U.S. News and World Report. We bring the strengths of the Siteman Cancer Center to pediatric patients, finding innovative solutions in the latest cancer science. Your child will be seen by a team of Washington University Physicians, nurses, and therapists who will deliver top-tier medical knowledge and exceptional care.

At Siteman Kids at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, your son or daughter is treated, not just as a patient, but as a child. Our extensive support services work to meet the emotional, educational, and social needs of developing young people. We provide on-site tutoring, physical and occupational therapy, counseling, and even art and pet therapy to help children cope with their treatments, feel comfortable in the hospital, and navigate the powerful emotions brought on by a cancer diagnosis.

Our concern extends beyond our patients to their parents, siblings, and other caregivers. We recognize that childhood cancer affects the entire family, and we will do our utmost to help you and your loved ones meet the challenges ahead.

Advanced Treatments

Siteman Kids offers cutting-edge treatments that are not available at most community hospitals. Some of these special treatments and techniques include:

  • CAR-T cell immunotherapy: As of August 2017, we are one of only 19 pediatric cancer centers in the United States licensed to perform CAR-T immunotherapy, a ground-breaking treatment that uses a patient’s own T cells to fight cancer. This treatment has led to successful remissions in many pediatric patients who had exhausted all other options.
  • Bone marrow transplantation: Siteman Cancer Center is a national leader in bone marrow transplantation. The procedure was developed in part at Barnes Jewish Hospital, one of our parent institutions. Our physicians have performed over 500 transplants on children since 1991, and our transplant patients are housed in special facilities to keep them safe during the process. Visit our pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant page to learn more.
  • Clinical trials: Our patients have access to brand-new drugs and therapies through clinical trials, studies testing treatments that have not yet been released on the market. These studies allow your child to be treated with some of the most advanced techniques in the world.
  • Genomic medicine: At Siteman, our physicians recognize that cancer manifests differently in every patient. They will sequence your child’s DNA to develop a treatment plan that is best suited for success.
  • Intraoperative MRI: We use MRI equipment in the operating room to ensure that our surgeons remove diseased tissues safely and completely.
  • Laser ablation surgery: This minimally-invasive procedure, pioneered by Washington University Physicians, eliminates tumors by burning them with a hot laser. It’s especially effective for tumors located in the brain.

Safe Radiation

If your child requires radiation therapy, he or she will have access to the safest, most sophisticated radiation tools available. These tools provide focused radiation to tumors without touching healthy parts of the body:

  • Proton beam: Proton beam therapy is a form of radiation that is especially suited for tumors in delicate areas such as the eye, brain, and spinal cord. Unlike ordinary radiation, which passes through the body, the proton beam stops at its target. This protects surrounding tissue and organs from harm.
  • Gamma Knife: Gamma Knife is a highly-concentrated dose of radiation that attacks diseased brain tissue with the precision of a blade. Because it can eliminate tumors without damaging healthy tissue, Gamma Knife is a safe alternative to neurosurgery for some pediatric patients.

Support for Patients and Families

We provide a comprehensive range of services for the children in our care as well as their family members. We will continue to offer support even after your child has finished with treatment, helping him or her thrive as a cancer survivor.

  • School program: To help your child keep up with his or her schoolwork, we have an on-site school room as well as a teacher and volunteer tutors who can assist. Our staff will create a specialized education plan for each child undergoing a prolonged stay at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
  • Counseling: We have a pediatric psychologist on staff who specializes in the care of young cancer patients.
  • Physical and occupational therapy: We have a full staff of expert physical and occupational therapists who can help your child with motion and essential daily tasks.
  • Art therapy: Art enables children to express their feelings and attain a degree of creative control that can be refreshing in the midst of uncertainty. Our art therapists are available to work with your child individually or in groups.
  • Pet therapy: It can be difficult to be separated from pets during treatment. If your child misses a pet at home or is in need of comfort or distraction, we can arrange a visit from one of our friendly therapy dogs.
  • Spiritual guidance: Our hospital chaplain is available to offer spiritual and ethical guidance, or to simply be a sounding-board for your thoughts, ideas, and struggles. We will also locate a member of the clergy from your own faith tradition if you prefer.
  • Survivorship services: To support our pediatric patients as they age, we provide care through the Lifelong Outcomes Clinic. The clinic performs medical screenings and connects patients with resources to help them tackle adulthood as survivors of cancer.