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Cancer in Children: Your Child’s Healthcare Team

Group of four health care providers smiling.
A team of trained specialists will help you make important choices about your child’s health.

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.

Team members

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 healthcare 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. These professionals may help the doctor manage your child’s symptoms. They may help adjust medicines. They may perform medical exams.

  • Nurses. Professionals who give patient care. They teach and give support to the child and family.

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

  • Pathologist. A doctor who figures out the type of cancer and other diseases. To do this, he or she looks at cells under a microscope or reviews 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. He or she studies how children react to illness and hospitalization. This team member helps you and your child cope while your child is in the hospital.

  • Psychologist. A specialist who helps your child and family cope with feelings that may occur 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 medicine 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 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 is 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. 

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:

  • Palliative care physician: specializes in preserving quality of life and managing side effects of treatments

  • 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.

Online Medical Reviewer: Levy, Adam S, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Watson, L Renee, MSN, RN
Last Review Date: 8/1/2017
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