What to expect when your child has solid tumor surgery at St. Jude

Patient entering St. Jude

Your child is scheduled for solid tumor surgery. What’s next? 

Knowing what to expect can help prepare you and your family for your child's surgery visit.

Pre-Op in the Surgery Clinic

Every patient who has surgery at St. Jude starts the process with a visit to the Surgery Clinic or with someone from the clinic coming to the patient's room. During this pre-op visit, your child may be evaluated for dental or mouth problems. A dentist in the Dental Clinic will give immediate attention to teeth or mouth problems that could delay surgery. Your child may need other tests as well to prepare for surgery. 

Depending on the surgery your child will have, he or she may go to one of these sub-clinics. 

  • Eye clinic, which includes:
    • Eye Tumor Clinic for patients with cancers in or around the eye
    • Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Clinic to help with the way eyes function and look
    • Ocular Immunology Clinic to treat eye infections and for patients just ending stem cell transplant
    • Ocular Development and Pediatric-Neuro Eye Clinic to help patients whose disease or treatment has changed their vision or eye movement
  • Ortho clinic 
  • Limb-sparing clinic 
  • AVN (avascular necrosis) clinic

Support after surgery

There are multiple resources for ongoing support after surgery for both your child and the whole family. Some of the support will depend on the type of cancer and surgery your child has. But every patient has access to the following:

  • Psychologists to help patients and families manage stress and resolve conflicts
  • Dentists in the Dental Clinic to help with teeth or mouth problems that result from treatment
  • Clinical Nutrition to give nutritional care to patients and nutrition information to patients and families 
  • Rehabilitation services including audiology, occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology

How to talk with your child about treatment

The following resources may help when talking with your child about treatment. 

  • Do You Know is an educational series for patients and their families. These printable handouts offer practical, age-specific tips on how to help your child through a stressful event. The handouts also give suggestions on how to talk to your child’s brothers and sisters who want to feel included and help. 
  • Our Child Life staff is especially trained to talk with children about cancer. They are experts in giving age-appropriate explanations that help your child and the rest of the family through the surgical process. To learn more, see What Is Child Life? and The Family Guide.