If it is determined that proton therapy might be a viable treatment option for your child, you’re probably wondering what is entailed. What is the process? How long will the treatments take? Will my child be sick afterwards? And are there things for my family to do in that area?
To answer your questions and alleviate some of your concerns about life away from home for a few months, we’ve gathered some information that may be helpful as you plan your travel to CHOP for proton therapy. Our aim is to make your stay in Philadelphia as comfortable and convenient as possible.
A CHOP oncologist with expertise in the specific cancer your child has will oversee and coordinate treatment while you are here. If your child needs lab work, chemotherapy, imaging or other types of services, our oncologist will work with your primary oncologist to smoothly facilitate these procedures while you are away from home. You’ll also have access to a multidisciplinary team of highly experienced and compassionate professionals, many of whom are at the forefront of researching and developing new cancer therapies – so you can rest assured your child is getting the very best care available in the world.
If you are choosing CHOP solely for proton therapy, we will work in collaboration with your home care team, making recommendations to your primary oncologist and ensuring all parties are kept informed throughout the process. To learn more about our collaborative approach with your primary physician, take a moment to watch this video on getting a second opinion at CHOP.
While visiting for proton therapy, you will have access to the full resources of the Cancer Center at CHOP, including psychosocial services through which we provide support for siblings and the entire family. For outpatient children ages five and up who are missing classes at school, our teachers work in partnership with your home teachers to help kids stay on track with their studies.
Prior to your child’s proton therapy treatment, our intake coordinator sets up a 2- to 3-day evaluation, during which you and your child will:
Once these evaluations and testing are complete, you will then return home for two weeks while your child’s proton therapy plan is designed and finalized. Your child’s proton treatments will begin approximately two weeks following the computed tomography (CT) simulation, which identifies the exact location of the tumor within the patient’s body and also simulates the settings and movements of the actual treatment machine that will be used for radiation treatments.
We also perform neuro-psychological testing, as applicable, for brain tumor patients, as part of our brain protocol program. Each child treated at the Roberts Center will have the opportunity to enroll in studies examining the long-term neuropsychological and developmental effects of proton therapy. The results of these studies could help doctors refine and improve proton therapy treatments for future generations of children.
If you are traveling to CHOP for proton therapy treatments, you can expect the treatment program to last for approximately two months, with an average of 30 treatments scheduled every day from Monday through Friday, except holidays. Depending on the patient’s overall therapy program, a single treatment may take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. Much of the treatment time involves precisely positioning the patient to accurately pinpoint the tumor with the proton beam. After proton treatments, and depending on your child’s condition, it’s possible you’ll have time in your day to do other things.
Many families enjoy taking short outings in Philadelphia to our world-renowned attractions. Some are within walking distance while others are within a 10- to 15-minute bus or car ride away from the Roberts Proton Therapy Center. For younger kids, the Please Touch Museum and the Philadelphia Zoo are favorites. Or you can tie in history lessons by visiting the Liberty Bell and the National Constitution Center. The Franklin Institute and the Academy of Sciences are also great for families. Of course baseball games are a hit in summertime, and there’s always a good movie playing somewhere around town.
Because of our urban location, you’ll also have quick and easy access to:
If you wish to spend time closer to the hospital, the Connelly Center is a tremendous resource and a comfortable place for CHOP families to relax.
Wondering if your child is a candidate for proton therapy? Call to make an appointment or request a second opinion consultation at 215-615-5678.
For non-urgent questions or requests, contact us online.
Learn more about what to do in Philadelphia.
Find fun stuff to do with kids in Philadelphia.
Find a place to stay within a short distance of the Roberts Proton Therapy Center.
Learn more about proton therapy at CHOP.
To schedule an appointment or request a second opinion.