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Solid Tumor Treatment FAQs

Here are common questions families ask about solid tumors, treatment and St. Jude:

  1. Our name describes the personal care we can offer your child — St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

    • The name St. Jude has become synonymous with commitment to care for children who have cancer regardless of family finances or health insurance. 
    • Children are at the heart of all that happens at St. Jude.
      • We are the only cancer center funded by the National Cancer Institute that’s devoted only to children. 
      • Your child will get the most personal care because all staff members are trained not just to treat cancer, but to treat it specifically in children.
    • Research helps make some of the biggest improvements in cancer treatment. We treat children in our hospital and affiliate clinics through clinical trials. These clinical trials help our researchers and doctors find cures for children everywhere. 
      • St. Jude has created more cancer clinical trials than any other children’s hospital. Since the day we opened, St. Jude has been finding new treatments for children.
      • Hospital is a word that stands for the treatment and services that takes place at St. Jude. Whether your child gets care as an outpatient or an inpatient, he or she will benefit from the most advanced medical technology.

    Your child will also get the most advanced supportive care. For complete care, each child is treated by a team of specialists. Your child’s team will have doctors as well as a social worker, psychologist and rehabilitation experts.

  2. A referral can be initiated simply by having your physician call St. Jude to discuss your child's case. The referral process begins by your physician calling the following number:

    Toll free 1-866-2STJUDE (1-866-278-5833), option 1, 24 hours a day.

  3. Yes. Prior surgery alone does not exclude your child from being considered for treatment at St. Jude. If your child has already undergone a biopsy or surgical resection, we want to review the "histology" or tumor taken at the time of surgery to confirm the diagnosis. Once a diagnosis is made, we will discuss with you the specific therapy that St. Jude recommends.

  4. Your length of stay depends upon the type of treatment required for your child's disease. Your initial evaluation at St. Jude will, in most cases, require at least a two-week stay in Memphis. Any extra time will be determined by the specific treatment plan designed for your child. Your St. Jude physician or nurse will discuss this matter with you.

  5. Treating the disease is only one facet of patient care at St. Jude. The institution has a wide range of specialists to help families cope with the challenges of battling a life-threatening pediatric illness. Social workers, psychologists, child-life specialists and pastoral caregivers help patients and families deal with the emotional effects. School teachers are on staff to help patients continue their studies while they are undergoing treatment. You will receive a tremendous amount of support from other parents who are going through similar experiences.

  6. The term "experimental" usually refers to new chemotherapy drugs that are still in the first two phases of testing. These types of therapy, known as Phase 1 or Phase 2 drugs, are generally used when standard treatments have failed. Occasionally, if a newer drug is very promising, we will evaluate it in a newly diagnosed tumor in what we call an "up front chemotherapy window." Standard therapies, generally using Phase 3 drugs, are typically recommended in patients with a newly diagnosed solid tumor. By incorporating newer components of therapy, the purpose of these studies is to determine whether the outcome, or results, will be better than studies completed in the past. A major component of our hospital is focused on the research of cancer; your child will be treated with state-of-the-art therapy. All our protocols (treatment plans) are approved by our Office of Human Subjects Protection and the results are closely monitored to protect your child. See Taking Part in Clinical Research for more information.

  7. One of our main goals at St. Jude is to provide children with as much "normalcy" as possible. And obviously, one of the most familiar places to children is their own home. When possible, we will work with a local physician to deliver certain treatments at or closer to home. This issue is something we can discuss with you before your child starts treatment.

  8. Almost all patients with solid tumors will require a biopsy or surgical resection when they are originally diagnosed. The tumor tissue obtained at the time of initial surgery is vitally important in determining what therapy will be recommended. In some cases, surgery alone is considered "curative" and no additional therapy is needed. With other types of tumors, both chemotherapy and radiation therapy will be required. We will be happy to discuss with you the types of therapy that St. Jude would recommend.

  9. Absolutely. After your child has been referred to St. Jude and a treatment plan has been recommended, we will be in touch with your local physician to let him or her know what therapy is being offered. Once therapy has begun, we will continue to communicate with your local physician, and when possible, involve them in delivering some of your child's treatments at home. After treatment is completed, we will rely heavily on him or her to monitor your child and to notify us of any problems or concerns.