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Solid Tumor Treatment Program

At St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, your child will be taken care of by experts who have dedicated their careers to improving care and finding cures for solid tumors.

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St. Jude treats and cares for children with many kinds of solid tumors. We handle some of the toughest cases. Your child will get the most personal care here because all staff members are trained not just to treat cancer, but to treat it specifically in children. 

St. Jude is the only National Cancer Institute–designated Comprehensive Cancer Center just for children. A Comprehensive Cancer Center meets rigorous standards for research that develops new and better approaches to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer.  Research helps make some of the biggest improvements in cancer treatment. Clinical trials help our researchers and doctors find cures for children everywhere. Your child will benefit from the most advanced medical technology and the latest scientific findings.

Solid tumors treated at St. Jude

A tumor is an abnormal clump of cells that forms when there are changes in the DNA of the cells. Not all tumors are cancer. A tumor that does not have any cancer cells is called benign. A tumor with cancer cells is called malignant. Solid tumors can occur in several places including bones, muscles, and organs. 

Read about the types of solid tumors treated at St. Jude: 

Solid tumor clinical trials

St. Jude clinical trials have produced groundbreaking treatments for serious childhood illnesses. Our doctors and scientists work together to find better ways to treat patients. Many times, new treatments are developed right here on our campus where your child gets care. We also take part in trials developed by the Children’s Oncology Group (COG). 

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Seeking treatment at St. Jude

Patients accepted to St. Jude must have a disease we treat and must be referred by a physician or other qualified medical professional. We accept most patients based on their ability to enroll in an open clinical trial.

How to seek treatment

Why St. Jude for solid tumor treatment?

Research and treatment at  St. Jude have helped increase the survival rates of children with solid tumors.

Our solid tumor expertise includes:

  • Retinoblastoma:  St. Jude has one of the largest treatment teams for treating the rare and highly curable eye tumor called retinoblastoma. St. Jude researchers were the first to publish a detailed map that shows what genes might be changed in this type of tumor. This research may be used to develop new retinoblastoma treatments for children everywhere.
  • Rare cancers:  St. Jude specializes in the treatment of rare but serious childhood cancers. These include:
    • Melanoma:  St. Jude has researched malignant melanoma in children for more than 20 years. We have led the use of several new diagnosis and treatment strategies for melanoma.
    • Nasopharyngeal carcinoma:  Cancer neck surgery in children requires expert care to avoid nerve damage that may lead to weakness, numbness, or problems with speech or swallowing. Our experienced surgeons help improve patients’ chances for best outcomes. 
  • Soft tissue sarcoma:  We have identified features of soft tissue sarcomas, which help us identify patients whose disease may return or spread. These findings led to a national study to identify patients who might benefit from more treatment after surgery. Treatment may include chemotherapy or radiation therapy. 

Institutional excellence

More reasons to choose St. Jude for care include:

  • We are consistently ranked among the best childhood cancer centers in the nation by US News & World Report. 
  • At St. Jude, we have created an environment where children can be children and families can be together.
  • We lead more clinical trials for childhood cancer than any other hospital in the U.S. 
  • The nurse-to-patient ratio at St. Jude is about 1:3 in hematology and oncology and 1:1 in the Intensive Care Unit. 

Solid tumor treatment team

When your child comes to St. Jude for solid tumor treatment, your family will have a team of medical experts dedicated to your child’s treatment and care. One doctor will oversee the team and your child’s care.

This doctor will meet regularly with your child’s treatment team. Your child’s team may include:

  • Radiation oncologists
  • Surgeons
  • Pathologists
  • Other specialists such as ophthalmologists (eye specialists), physical therapists, surgeons, and radiologists

Specialized surgeons

Treatment for most solid tumors starts with surgery. The expert skills and experience of St. Jude specialty surgeons can help improve patients’ chances for best outcomes.

Our experts in solid tumor surgery include:

  • Limb-sparing surgery for osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma: St. Jude surgeons specialize in techniques to spare limbs and encourage healthy bone to grow. Our team has also pioneered new imaging techniques to understand how osteosarcomas respond to treatment and monitor where cancer may have spread.
  • Kidney-preserving surgery for Wilms tumor: Our surgeons have extensive experience and surgical ability to preserve as much normal kidney as possible for children with Wilms tumors in both kidneys.
  • Melanoma: We were one of the first centers to use a special kind of biopsy for melanoma that is now used across the nation.

Meet your solid tumor treatment team

What to expect during your visit 

Even if your child has already had surgery, they may be able to get treatment at St. Jude. Our team will review information taken at the time of surgery to confirm the diagnosis. Once a diagnosis is made, we will talk with you about the specific therapy that St. Jude recommends.

How long you stay at St. Jude depends on the treatment your child needs. Your first visit to St. Jude lasts about 2 weeks. We will stay in touch with your local doctor who referred you. Our nurse coordinator can answer any questions you have.

One of our main goals is to provide children with as much “normalcy” as possible. When possible, we will work with a local physician to deliver certain treatments at or closer to home at one of our St. Jude Affiliate clinics. We will discuss this with you before your child starts treatment.

Diagnosis and treatment

To diagnose and treat your child, we may need to get a sample of their tumor, called a biopsy. We will look at the sample in the lab to diagnose your child’s disease. If the tumor has cancer cells, it is malignant. If there are no cancer cells, the tumor is benign. Both kinds of tumors may cause problems if they change the way the body functions.

Almost all patients with solid tumors require a biopsy when they are diagnosed. The tumor tissue obtained at the time of initial surgery helps determine what therapy will be recommended. In some cases, surgery alone is considered curative, and no more therapy is needed. With other types of tumors, both chemotherapy and radiation therapy are required. We will discuss with you the types of therapy that we suggest.

We will be in touch with your local physician to let them know the therapy that is being offered. Once therapy has begun, we will continue to communicate with your local physician. When possible, we will involve them in delivering some of your child’s treatments at home. After treatment is over, we will rely on your local physician to monitor your child and to notify us of any problems or concerns.

Learn more about these treatments for solid tumors:

Contact the Physician / Patient Referral Office

Call: 1-888-226-4343 (toll-free) or 901-595-4055 (local)  | Fax: 901-595-4011 | Email: | 24-hour pager: 1-800-349-4334

The solid tumor coordinator is dedicated to helping you seek treatment or refer a patient.

Solid Tumor Coordinator