Your Child’s Cancer Care Team

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Many professionals make up your child’s cancer treatment team. These caring people help their patients and their patients’ families. Even after your child’s treatment ends, these professionals remain accessible.

Team members have specific roles and perform different services. Some provide healthcare treatment while others provide supportive services for emotional needs. During hospital stays you see some members of your child’s treatment team every day. Other members only see you when you need the services or help they provide. During medical office visits, you may see multiple team members during your appointments. While your child stays at home, some of your team members call or keep in touch.

Each child cancer treatment center provides its own mix of treatment and support professionals. Your child’s treatment team usually forms during or immediately following diagnosis with cancer. You meet these team members, including doctors, nurses and social workers. Other pediatric team members include recreation therapists, teachers, chaplains and psychologists. Your child is a team member, just as a parent you are one, too.

Doctors of Your Child’s Cancer Treatment Team

Depending on your child’s type of cancer, age, gender and other factors, his or her treatment team may include:

  • Pediatric oncologist, a doctor specializing in childhood cancers
  • Pediatric hematologist, a doctor focusing on blood and blood-forming tissue cancers in children
  • Pediatric hematology or pediatric oncology fellow, a licensed pediatrician training for specialization in hematology or oncology
  • Pediatric residents, doctors working in teaching hospitals and training to become pediatricians
  • Medical students, medical students training in teaching hospitals to become doctors
  • Radiologist, a doctor who reads imaging studies like CT scans, X-rays and MRIs to diagnose diseases and track treatment progress
  • Pediatric surgeon, a doctor using surgery for treatment of cancer and other medical problems in children
  • Neurosurgeon, a doctor specializing in surgery on parts of the nervous system, such as the brain and spine
  • Neurologist, a doctor treating your child’s nervous system problems
  • Orthopedic surgeon, a surgeon specializing in injuries and diseases of bones
  • Pathologist, a doctor who reads lab tests to diagnose and classify diseases
  • Psychiatrist, a doctor specializing in mental health and behavioral counseling, sometimes involving medicines
  • Endocrinologist, a doctor specializing in glandular diseases
  • Gynecologist, a doctor specializing in health of the female reproductive system
  • Anesthesiologist, a doctor providing pain prevention and pain relieving medications or agents

Your child’s cancer treatment team may include other doctors. Which doctors maintain involvement in your child’s care depends on the diagnosis, treatment and symptoms developing during your child’s cancer journey.

Other Cancer Treatment Team Professionals

During cancer your child needs the help of many more professionals and specialists, besides doctors. Your family needs specialized support, too. Below are some other types of professionals rounding out your child’s cancer treatment team:

  • Physician assistants, medical professionals with master’s or doctoral level education who practice medicine under other doctors or healthcare providers
  • Nurse practitioners, registered nurses with master’s or doctoral level education, training and certification who work alongside doctors
  • Nurses, educated and licensed professionals helping care for children with cancer, teaching families about cancer and providing other supportive services. Types of nurses include:
    • Registered nurses, RNs, nurses with associates or bachelor degrees who give medicines, take vital signs and provide clinical care and education to patients and families
    • Certified oncology clinical nurse specialists (OCNS), registered nurses with master’s degrees and certifications, specializing in cancer care
    • Certified pediatric oncology nurses (CPONs), registered nurses specializing in working with children with cancer
  • Oncology social worker, a social worker providing support and guidance for non-medical care of cancer patients and their families
  • Recreational therapists and child life specialists, professionals providing encouragement of young people with cancer to improve their physical and mental health through activities
  • School teachers, helping students complete their studies during inpatient and outpatient treatment
  • Dietitians, experts in nutrition helping people with cancer achieve and maintain healthy weight and diet
  • Radiation therapists, providing radiation treatment for children with cancer
  • Pharmacologists, professionals providing consultation regarding uses, reactions and interactions of drugs
  • Pediatric psychologists, psychologists specializing in helping children understand their cancer and treatment, as well as helping with educational and social issues
  • Pastoral counselors or chaplains, helping care for patients’ and their families’ spiritual needs