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Cancer in Children: Your Child’s Healthcare Team

A team of highly trained specialists will help manage your child’s care. You and your child will work closely with them. They will help you make choices about your child’s treatment. They will help you and your child cope with cancer and cancer treatment. They can also answer your questions.

Portrait of five healthcare providers.
A team of trained specialists will help you make important choices about your child’s health.

Team members

These are some of the people who may care for your child. You may already know a few of them:

  • Attending oncologist or pediatric oncologist.  This doctor manages your child's cancer care and leads the healthcare team. He or she works with other team members to ensure the best care for your child.

  • Pediatric oncology orhematology fellow. This doctor cares for children (pediatrician) and is getting advanced training to treat kids with cancer or blood diseases. Fellows often work in teaching hospitals. 

  • Resident or pediatric resident.  This doctor has graduated from medical school and may be training to be a pediatrician. Residents often work in teaching hospitals.

  • Clinical nurse specialist and nurse practitioner. These nurses have advanced training in caring for children with cancer. They may help the doctor manage your child’s symptoms. They may help adjust medicines and do medical exams. They also will teach and support you, your child, and your family.

  • Physician assistants (PAs). These providers work with doctors to do many different things, like exams, adjust medicines, and make treatment decisions.

  • Nurses. These are the healthcare providers who take care of your child at the bedside. They teach and give support to your child and family.

  • Social worker. This is a professional trained to help with the complex social, emotional, and money challenges that occur when a family member is ill.

  • Pathologist. This is a doctor who works in a lab and tests tissue to figure out the type of cancer and other diseases.

  • Genetic counselor. This is a specialist who helps find out if diseases run in families. He or she can order genetic testing if needed.

  • Nutritionist and dietitian. These are specialists who help with your child’s nutrition. They can teach you about a special diet your child needs or how to get the most out of what your child eats. 

  • Child life specialist. This provider is trained in child development. They study how children react to illness and hospitalization. This team member helps you and your child cope while your child is in the hospital.

  • Psychologist. This is a specialist who helps your child and family cope with feelings that may occur due to illness.

  • Radiation oncologist. This is a doctor who treats cancer with radiation.

  • Pediatric surgeon. This is a doctor who does surgery on children.

  • Anesthesiologist. This is a doctor who uses medicine to help your child sleep and not feel pain during procedures.

  • Physical therapists and occupational therapists. These are specialists who help improve strength and motor skills. They can help your child relearn daily tasks.

  • Pharmacist. This is a specialist trained to prepare and give out medicine.

  • Family doctor or pediatrician. This doctor is the primary care provider who likely has followed your child over the years for general healthcare. He or she may have been involved in the early workup and diagnosis of cancer. This doctor may be less involved in treating cancer. But it's important to keep him or her updated on your child's progress. This doctor may be following your child more closely again in the future. 

  • Palliative care physician. This doctor helps manage quality of life for sick people. He or she treats pain, side effects of treatments, and symptoms of illness.

Specialists

Specialists will help care for your child. The ones you will work with will depend on the type of cancer your child has. Each of these doctors focuses on a different body part or system:

  • Cardiologist: heart

  • Endocrinologist: glands and hormones

  • Dermatologist: skin

  • Gastroenterologist: digestive system

  • Geneticist: genetic (inherited) conditions

  • Hematologist: blood and blood-making organs

  • Nephrologist: kidneys

  • Neurologist: brain and nervous system

  • Ophthalmologist: eyes

  • Orthopedist: bones, muscles, joints, and ligaments

  • Pulmonologist: lungs

  • Urologist: urinary tract

Support members

There are other people who can help you. They include schoolteachers, chaplains, and many others who work at the healthcare center. Many of these experts will be involved in your child's care for many years. They will work together to answer questions, provide support, and give your child the best possible care.

Online Medical Reviewer: Adam Levy MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Kimberly Stump-Sutliff RN MSN AOCNS
Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Cunningham RN BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2020
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