St. Jude’s Department of Surgery combines state-of-the-art, cutting-edge surgical care with clinical and basic research. Due to the hospital's unique nature, the department trains surgeons from all over the world in surgery for cancer in children.
The Department of Surgery has nine divisions, which actively collaborate in clinical research projects throughout St. Jude:
- General Surgery
- Orthopedic Surgery
- Plastic Surgery
St. Jude surgeons have particular expertise in surgery for:
- High-risk neuroblastoma
- Bilateral Wilms tumor
- Brain tumors
- Sarcomas (many of which require complex limb-sparing surgery)
- Minimally invasive surgery for all types of tumors
St. Jude’s Department of Pathology provides expertise in the area of tissue diagnosis, which allows for proper treatment of childhood solid tumors. Pathologists use the latest technology, including immunohistochemical and molecular studies, to review each case. The pathology team works closely with the entire team of doctors to ensure that each patient receives the proper treatment for their type of cancer.
Children treated at St. Jude are often evaluated by X-ray, ultrasound, MRI, CT, and nuclear medicine studies at frequent intervals during and after treatment. These imaging examinations allow the radiologist to view the aggressiveness of the tumor and affected body systems. This information is reviewed by the St. Jude Solid Tumor Team at weekly meetings and helps them plan the management of the patient receiving therapy.
More about Department of Diagnostic Imaging
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s ophthalmology clinic offers specialty care for solid tumor patients with retinoblastoma and other cancers that affect vision.
Eye clinics are held daily in the St. Jude Eye Clinic and surgery is performed onsite in the Department of Surgery.
The St. Jude Eye Clinic is well known for expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of tumors that involve the eye, especially retinoblastoma. It also offers expert care in tumors that affect eye movement and the nerves of the eye.
The ophthalmology service is dedicated to providing full eye care and works with St. Jude researchers to find improved ways of diagnosing and treating cancers of the eye.
Children and adolescents with solid tumors often require evaluation and treatment for endocrine system dysfunction. The endocrine system controls the body’s hormones.
Common clinical problems include growth hormone deficiency, central hypothyroidism (a deficiency in the thyroid gland, a condition characterized by lowered metabolic rate and loss of vigor), delayed or early puberty, and obesity syndromes. Our patients are routinely referred to the endocrinologist who follows them on a regular basis. Specific therapy is initiated if and when it is necessary for a specific child.
More about the Division of Endocrinology
The Department of Psychology works with the Solid Tumor Division to help improve the health and the quality of life of each patient/family through assessment, consultation and intervention services. Specifically, psychology often will assess the child/family’s social, emotional and behavioral functioning. Individualized interventions are provided to help guide the patient/family to improve any problems with social, emotional and behavioral functioning. Psychology also helps with non-medication–related pain management.
Psychology also may assess a patient’s attention, memory, problem solving skills, ability to understand language, decision making ability, social and personal behaviors, intelligence and/or psychological functioning. The information gathered by the psychology team can be used to obtain proper school services, help teen patients with college/career planning, and to assist the Solid Tumor Team in understanding the developmental/mental functioning level of the patient.
Treatment for solid tumors can sometimes cause physical or communication problems that can limit the patient in being able to participate in daily activities. Correcting these problems can allow the patient to communicate better, care for themselves, and actively participate in daily activities of life. Rehabilitation services include:
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
- Speech-language pathology
If the patient needs rehabilitation services, they will first be evaluated by one or more of these professionals. Goals and treatment plans are then made specifically for that patient. Treatments are provided at St. Jude, but in some cases, the St. Jude therapist may work with a therapist near the patient’s home after the patient has left the hospital. The goal of the staff in Rehabilitation Services is to help the patient achieve the highest level of function possible to improve their quality of life and to make it possible to participate in everyday activities of life.
Dentistry is an important part of the medical service provided at St. Jude. New patients often have oral and dental problems requiring immediate attention so that proper medical treatment can proceed without delay or interruption. The main objective of Dental Services is to work closely with the physicians and nurses of all the various departments in the treatment, prevention and study of oral problems that may arise from childhood diseases and/or complications of therapy.
Clinical Nutrition Services is a department within Patient Care Services. Primary areas of responsibility include:
- Management of nutritional care for patients;
- Providing nutrition information and guidance to patients and families;
- Contributing to scientific research to improve nutrition outcomes; and
- Serving as a resource for dietitians, dietetic students, health care providers, and other individuals involved in the care of children diagnosed with catastrophic diseases.
Nutrition care is an important part of a child’s medical care during cancer treatment. Many children need assistance in maintaining optimal nutrition during their course of therapy. An individualized nutrition care plan may involve a special diet with counseling, use of high-calorie supplements to boost intake or a specialized nutritional feeding. The clinical dietitians work closely with the health care team to assure each child receives the best nutritional care possible.