The PROMISE of a Better Pediatric Radiation Experience

Treating the pediatric radiation oncology population has historically been difficult. Because it is imperative to have patients stay still during radiation treatment, general anesthesia is commonly used to facilitate radiation treatments in children, with most children age 7 and under receiving general anesthesia. This can cause many complications, difficulties, and detriments to the quality of life for patients because the regular course of radiation typically involves four to six weeks of daily treatment. Some of these setbacks include not being able to eat before treatments, a substantial increase in treatment time and recovery, potential health effects such as neurocognitive impairments from repeated doses of anesthesia, allergic reactions, more pronounced anxiety and fear, vascular access device complications, and a significant rise in financial burden. The stress that these patients and their families endure is tremendous and is amplified by the daily anesthesia – school schedules are severely disrupted, moods worsen because they cannot eat, and medical costs are high.

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UT Southwestern Medical Center