At Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, our surgeons perform hundreds of procedures each year for patients ranging in age from newborns to adolescents and young adults. Our unparalleled expertise in pediatric surgery allows us to treat many young patients whose cancers are considered inoperable by other specialists.
Led by Pediatric Surgical Service Chief J. Ted Gerstle, our surgeons are particularly experienced in performing extensive, complicated surgeries to address neuroblastoma, desmoplastic small round cell tumors, Wilms’ tumors, liver tumors, and other very rare solid tumors of childhood. Our team of surgical experts also includes pediatric neurosurgeons and other surgical oncology specialists, such as orthopaedists and ophthalmologists.
Memorial Sloan Kettering’s pediatric surgery capabilities include:
- Vision-saving techniques for retinoblastoma, such as laser therapy, cryotherapy to freeze smaller tumors, and implanting radioactive discs (plaques) into the affected eye
- Limb-sparing surgeries for treating pediatric sarcomas
- Minimally-invasive endoscopic neurosurgery to remove tumors from the ventricles of the brain
In some cases, depending on your child and the characteristics of his or her cancer, we can perform minimally invasive procedures, using small incisions, tiny cameras, and very thin instruments. Minimally invasive surgery reduces pain after the procedure, shortens your child’s stay in the hospital, and helps speed recovery so your child can return to his or her usual daily activities as quickly as possible.
Making Surgical Decisions through Collaboration
Our surgeons are an integral part of the healthcare team for many of our patients. We work together with other medical specialists to analyze the biology, stage, and aggressiveness of your child’s tumor to plan the most effective course of therapy with the fewest side effects.
As part of this approach, we collaborate with researchers and pathologists who analyze tumor tissue to measure levels of molecules that may indicate whether your child’s tumor is aggressive or slow growing. This helps us determine whether surgery is even necessary, or whether the tumor may decrease on its own. We can also identify whether the tumor can be removed completely or whether more treatment is needed before or after the procedure to increase the chances of a complete recovery.
This approach ensures that children and young adults who do not need chemotherapy and radiation are spared the side effects of treatment, while also making sure that patients with more-aggressive cancers receive the most-effective and thorough therapy available.