Pediatric Radiation Therapy

The goal of radiation therapy is the same for all patients, no matter their age: to safely shrink or eliminate their cancer. Our radiation experts take every step to ensure that our youngest patients are treated with care and compassion.

Radiation is precisely delivered via high-energy beams. It is given on its own or in combination with surgery, chemotherapy, or both. Our world-renowned experts — including the tristate area’s only dedicated pediatric radiation oncologist — have treated more children than at any other institution in the country. Highly qualified doctors, nurses, therapists, and anesthesiologists work to ensure that your child receives the safest, best possible care.

Pictured: CJ Postighone
CJ’s Story
When five-year-old CJ was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, his radiation oncologist made a plan to maximize the effectiveness and minimize the side effects of his treatment.
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We understand that you may have concerns about your child’s exposure to radiation. We hold age-appropriate discussions with patients and their parents to ensure that everyone is comfortable with each step in the process. Our doctors are also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer your questions.

There are many types of radiation treatment. The method we recommend will depend on the type of cancer, the location of the tumor, and whether it has spread to other areas of the body. With our experience and access to state-of-the-art radiotherapy, we can ensure the most effective treatment with the lowest possible risk of side effects.

Learn more about the radiation treatments we most commonly offer:

Proton beam therapy

This state-of-the-art treatment uses charged particles called protons to deliver high doses of radiation directly to tumors that may be resistant to standard x-ray radiation. With proton beam therapy, there is a reduced impact on surrounding tissues and a lower risk of treatment-related side effects. MSK offers the newest type of proton beam therapy, called pencil beam technology, to further minimize risk and damage to healthy tissue.

Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)

IMRT uses computer programs to calculate and deliver different doses of radiation directly to the tumor from different angles. It allows us to give higher, more effective doses of radiation to tumors while minimizing exposure to surrounding healthy tissues and organs. This approach increases the chance for a cure and lessens side effects.

Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)

IGRT uses high-tech imaging to guide the delivery of precise radiation beams. This approach ensures that the radiation targets the tumor and spares nearby healthy tissue.


Brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy that is done internally. The source of the radiation is placed inside the body near the tumor. These implants are usually tiny steel capsules (called seeds) about the size of a grain of rice that contain radioactive material. The seeds deliver most of the radiation to the area around the implant. This allows our doctors to use a higher total dose of radiation to treat a smaller area in a shorter time, compared with external forms of radiation therapy. The radioactive implants may be permanent or temporary and may require a hospital stay. We use advanced imaging techniques to make sure the seeds are placed in the precise spot needed to treat the cancer.

Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT)

IORT is done during surgery. It delivers radiation directly to a tumor, either externally or internally. This approach allows our surgeons to move healthy tissue out of the way before applying radiation therapy, which may be helpful when important organs are located very close to the tumor. It is possible to use a higher-than-usual — and therefore more effective — dose of radiation and to spare nearby healthy tissues because this treatment can be delivered to a precisely defined area.

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)

SRS uses advanced imaging and computer guidance to deliver very high doses of radiation directly to tumors. This allows doctors to minimize the dose to normal tissues and organs nearby. SRS usually requires fewer treatments than standard radiation therapy.