Cancer in Children: Your Child's Health Care 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 health. They will help you and your child cope with cancer and its treatment. They can also answer your questions.
Below are some of the people who may care for your child. You may already know a few of them:
- Attending oncologist. A doctor who manages cancer in children. This doctor leads the health care team. He or she works with other team members to ensure the best care for your child.
- Fellow. A doctor who cares for children (pediatrician) and is training to treat kids with cancer. Fellows often work in teaching hospitals.
- Resident. A doctor who may be training to be a pediatrician. Residents often work in teaching hospitals.
- Clinical nurse specialist or nurse practitioner. A nurse who gives care to children with cancer. He or she may help the doctor manage your child's symptoms. They may help adjust medications. They may perform medical exams.
- Nurses. Professionals who give patient care. They teach and give support to the child and family.
- Pathologist. A doctor who finds cancer and other diseases. To do this, they look at cells under a microscope or review lab tests.
- Genetic counselor. A specialist who helps find out if diseases run in families. He or she can order genetic testing if needed.
- Nutritionist. A specialist who helps with your child's nutrition. He or she can teach you about a special diet for your child if needed.
- Child life specialist. A specialist trained in child development. They study how children react to illness and hospitalization. They help you and your child cope during your child's time in the hospital.
- Psychologist. A specialist who helps your child and family cope with feelings that may arise due to illness.
- Radiation oncologist. A doctor who treats cancer with radiation.
- Pediatric surgeon. A doctor who does surgery on children.
- Anesthesiologist. A doctor who uses medication to help your child sleep through procedures.
- Physical therapist and occupational therapist. These are specialists who help improve strength and motor skills. They can help people relearn daily tasks.
- Pharmacist. A specialist trained to prepare and dispense medication.
- Family doctor/pediatrician. This doctor is the primary care provider who likely has followed your child over the years for general health care. He or she may have been involved in the initial workup and diagnosis of cancer. This doctor may be less involved in the treatment of cancer, but it is important to keep him or her updated on your child's progress because he or she may be following your child more closely again in the future.
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
There are other people who can help you. They include social workers and schoolteachers. They also include chaplains. These support members can help you find emotional, spiritual, and financial support. They can help you and your family cope with the changes that cancer brings. Talk with them as soon as you are able.