Treating Tumours in Children
The UMCG Radiotherapy department treats around 30 children with cancer every year.
This treatment uses state-of-the-art photon radiotherapy technology (VMAT).
As of the end of 2017, the UMCG will also be able to treat tumours using protons. This type of proton therapy is particularly advantageous for use on paediatric tumours.
Proton Therapy for Children
Children are still growing and developing physically. Radiation side-effects in children need special consideration as these may still have an impact many years later during adult life. Proton therapy has the ability to (in some cases) substantially restrict the dose in healthy (still developing) organs. This has the potential to reduce the probability of damage to these healthy tissues, and to reduce the probability of long-term side-effects or other consequences.
Eligibility for Proton Therapy
Individual treatment plans are drafted for all children. This includes an assessment as to whether using proton therapy instead of photon therapy is beneficial. This depends in particular on the type and location of a tumour. When necessary, the UMCG consults with (other) proton centres to arrive at the proper recommendations and decisions.
Your child’s attending radiotherapeutic-oncologist will explain the radiation treatment (radiotherapy) process. During this meeting, the possible side-effects of the radiation treatment will be discussed. This also involves reviewing the potential advantages of using proton therapy, and involving you in deciding whether a referral abroad would be desirable.
Expected Availability in Groningen
The UMCG expects to be able to treat children with cancer using proton radiotherapy early 2018, specifically at the UMC Groningen Proton Therapy Centre, part of the UMCG Radiotherapy department. If proton treatment is not possible at the UMCG, you will be involved in deciding whether a referral abroad would be desirable.
Until the end of 2017, children with cancer will only be able to be referred abroad. The UMCG collaborates with various European centres, in particular the Westdeutsches Protonentherapie Zentrum Essen in Essen (Germany), the Heidelberger Ionstrahl-Therapiezentrum (HIT) in Heidelberg (Germany), and the Paul Scherrer Institut in Villigen (Switzerland).
If no European centres are able to accommodate your child, a referral to one of various centres in the United States is also possible.
Health Care Insurance Reimbursement for Proton Therapy Abroad
Proton radiation for children with cancer is eligible for reimbursement by health care insurance companies.
The following radiotherapeutic-oncologists of the Radiotherapy department specialise in the treatment of paediatric tumours.
More information about the Paediatric Tumours Working Group can be found here.