Cancer Centre for Children, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead

Contact

Enquires: (02) 7825 2134

Current patient appointments: (02) 7825 2115

Camperdown ward: Level 2 opposite The Starlight Room

Oncology Treatment Centre: Level 2 off Ward Street

About our service

The Cancer Centre for Children is located within The Children's Hospital at Westmead and is a world-class facility with highly qualified and skilled staff. It is the largest comprehensive paediatric treatment centre in New South Wales and provides support to several hundred young patients with cancer and their families each year.

Our services

Our clinical services cover the diagnosis and treatment of all forms of childhood cancer and leukaemia including:

  • dedicated inpatient ward for acute care Camperdown Ward (Oncology inpatient care)
  • outpatient treatment centre for ongoing management and support care
  • bone marrow transplantation service
  • neuro-oncology service
  • radiation oncology
  • psychological and support services
  • palliative care and bereavement support
  • late effects clinic
  • education of parents/families and health professionals
  • clinical research and clinical trials, including participation in the research trials of the US Children's Oncology Group (COG).

Referral process for clinicians

Our department is using Consultmed to manage referrals. The Consultmed platform allows health professionals to send e-referrals to us securely.   

Consultmed questions and technical support: helpdesk@consultmed.co

Referral to the Cancer Centre for Children

  • Referral of a child with the possible diagnosis of cancer and leukaemia should be via prompt contact with the oncologist on-call, available 24 hours per day via the Hospital switchboard on (02) 7825 0000.
  • Children may come to the outpatient clinic to receive cancer treatment. Patients who are already under the care of the Cancer Centre for Children may make appointments to attend the outpatient clinic by phoning (02) 7825 2115.
  • Referral to other clinics within the Cancer Centre for Children, including the Late Effects and BMT Clinics, is made by the treating oncologist.
  • Camperdown Ward provides inpatient care for children who are under the care of the Cancer Centre for Children and is found on Level 2 of the hospital opposite The Starlight Room.

Handbook for parents and carers

We've put together a range of resources to help parents and carers navigate their time with us. The Cancer Handbook is filled with useful information we hope will make your experience with the Cancer Centre for Children as comfortable as possible.

Outpatient treatment

The Cancer Centre for Children caters to about 40 patients a day performing a variety of services including blood collection, doctor visits and treatments.

The clinic is normally open from 8:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday.

Appointments

When inquiring about an appointment please be ready to quote your child's full name, address, date of birth and the medical record number if the child has been to the hospital before.

When you are given a time for your child's appointments, please remember that this is a guide only for when they will be seen. Depending on how busy the clinic is, you may be at the hospital for several hours.

Doctors see children for appointments from 8.00 a.m. until 1.00 p.m..

If your child is unwell

Children who are unwell, and normally visit the Oncology Treatment Clinic, are not required to go to the Emergency Department but can see their regular doctors in the OTC who are familiar with their needs. Often children experiencing this kind of emergency are admitted to hospital through the clinic.

Meet Donna and Mira

Children, who have been booked in for an appointment, are asked to arrive about 30 minutes earlier in order to check in at the administration desk with Donna or Mira who will organize pathology tests for most children so the results will be ready when they see the doctor.

Reception staff and the Cancer Centre for Children

 

In the waiting room

The Cancer Centre for Children's big waiting room has many resources to entertain, distract, educate and pass the time. Your child can play with toys, do craft, work with a school teacher or just relax on comfortable chairs with a book or device. 

Electronics

There are iPads, portable DVD players, laptops and Nintendo DS consoles available for children to use when they are in the room.

Music and play

Your children can enjoy being read a story as part of a group, or have fun with music, at various times each week. Children can play and explore a range of musical instruments and props while singing their favourite songs. These sessions provide an opportunity for self-expression, provide distraction before and after appointments, and develop social skills through peer interaction, joint play and learning to take turns. Our Music Therapists and Child Life Therapists run these activities and by focussing on being positive and having fun can help lower stress in children and distract them from worries. 

Books

Medical procedures can can seem more normal and be less worrying to children when they are explained using language and pictures they can understand. The 'Wondero' books were developed by Lisa Carnovale and Cathy Quinn, who are Child Life Therapists and show Wondero with a central line and having a bone marrow transplant. These books are available in the waiting room for you to use with your child.

I spy

Your child can search our 'I spy' posters, located in the blood room and doctor's rooms, to provide a distraction from procedures. They can also pick a distraction toy from the baskets in the blood room to use during their next blood test.

You are always welcome to ask our Child Life Therapists for information about helping your child to cope better. 

Oncology Playroom Volunteers

We have highly valued and appreciated volunteers are in the playroom every day who can help you. They can:

  • Sit with your child for a short while if you wish to go and get a coffee
  • Get PlayStation and Xbox games for you to use in the waiting room
  • Set up craft activities
  • Keep you company
  • Get an iPad for you to use while you're in the waiting room
  • Get play dough, games or activities 
  • If there is anything else you need, just ask our volunteers or a staff member. They are always happy to help.

And there's more... Sometimes there are teachers available to do a little schoolwork with your child, volunteers doing craft, and toys like Lego. 

Child playing the Cancer Centre for Children waiting room

 

Pathology tests

A nurse collects blood for tests from your child’s central line, or a finger prick, which usually only takes about ten minutes. Other tests might include weighing your child on a set of scales, measuring their height, and checking their blood pressure.

These activities take place in a room next to the reception desk and from there children go to the waiting room to wait until the doctor can see them. You may wait for around 45 minutes to an hour depending on how busy it is or if there is an urgent case that needs priority assistance.

Child waiting for tests at the Cancer Centre for Children

 

Seeing your doctor

When called to see a doctor, your child is shown to one of the six brightly coloured consultation rooms. The colours are fun and vibrant but also practical as it is easy for you and your child to visit the red, green or blue room rather than looking for a room number.

If a doctor needs to consult with you, or there is a period of time where your child may get bored, there are toys in a basket for them to play with and a small desk in each room where they can draw or colour in.

Children are in the consultation rooms for varying lengths of time. Often they will be seen for around 15 to 20 minutes but this varies depending on their unique needs.

After reviewing the your child’s pathology, and examining them, the doctor will usually organise treatment, if the child is able to do it, which takes place in the treatment rooms.

Child and carer seeing doctor at the Cancer Centre for Children

 

Treatment

When your child is ready to have treatment, nurses are notified electronically via a large monitor in the nurses’ area. They then organise the treatment according the doctor’s directions.

Two treatment rooms

There are two treatment rooms, with distractions in each for treatments which can cause discomfort or are distressing, including a tall cylinder filled with water that bubbles that your child can use a remote control on to make different colours; a projector that spins coloured spots of light that move across the walls and ceiling; an assortment of toys; and an elaborately painted mural they can look at to find creatures like bees, fairies or dragonflies.

Treatments that might be given include chemotherapy, which varies according to your child’s needs and might last from five minutes to over six hours, blood or platelet transfusions, and support care such as anti-nausea, antibiotics, IV fluids and anti-fungals.

Other facilities

A large room with three beds allows children to lie down in the treatment area when needed and a room with many comfortable chairs enables them to sit comfortably while having treatment. An isolation room, in the treatment area, keeps children separate if infection is deemed a problem.

Regular procedures

Minor procedures are also conducted. Lumbar punctures and bone marrow aspirations are normally done on Mondays and Thursdays. CT scans are often done on Tuesdays and MRIs are usually done on Wednesdays.

Younger children often require anesthetic and need to be checked by a doctor before having procedures they may be unable to remain calm and still such as when attending the radiology department. 

Sometimes chemotherapy may require a patient to remain the hospital overnight and more extensive treatment might require a stay of up to five days. Planned chemotherapy may require longer stays if there are complications such as nausea or a fever.

Child with carer and staff in treatment centre

 

OTC clinics

The Oncology Treatment clinic is home to a variety of clinics that perform vital functions.

  • The Bone Marrow Transplant clinic treats patients about three times a week and has follow-up procedures
  • The Long Term Follow-up clinic treats patients who completed their cancer treatment over five years ago
  • The Neuro-oncology clinic treats children with brain tumours. It has a strong emphasis on clinical trials to improve outcomes for children.

Hospital support services

Staff who work in hospital support services are university qualified health professionals who provide a range of diagnostic, theraputic and direct patient care as part of the team supporting the needs of patients. They are:

  • Social workers
  • Child life therapists
  • Music therapists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Dieticians
  • Hospital School teachers.

They can play a vital role in improving the health and wellbeing of patients.

For more detailed information on these services, please refer to The Cancer Handbook

After cancer treatment

To ensure patients stay healthy, we have a long-term follow-up clinic (LTFU) to provide specialised care for those who have completed treatment more than five years ago for a cancer diagnosed before 18 years of age.

Patients are seen every two to three years and can be referred to the clinic by their oncologist or GP, and are then discharged to follow-up in conjunction with their GP or transition to an adult service.

We want to ensure that you are well informed about all aspects of your child's medical history, that you understand the recommendations for long-term health care, are linked in with any specialist services, and that you have a good working relationship with a GP. We support you in achieving this.

Why is follow-up care in a specialised clinic important?

Survival rates for childhood cancer have risen dramatically over the last 30 years from 25% to almost 80%. However, treatment for childhood cancer is often complicated and may include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery or a combination of therapies, which can potentially cause long-term health issues for young people.

Complications can include problems with growth, learning, hearing, vision, the heart, lungs, thyroid gland, mood, quality of life, reproductive system, bones and joints, digestive tract, kidneys and secondary cancers. Many of these complications may not appear for many years after treatment and survivors remain at life-long risk of developing some of them.

The LTFU clinic monitors patients' health and provides important education about their treatments, the potential impact on their health, and ways to stay as healthy as possible. Patients are provided with a comprehensive record of their treatments and recommendations for long-term follow-up.

What happens at the clinic?

Clinics are staffed with clinical nurse consultants, psychologists, and social workers, as well as a team of doctors specialising in paediatric and adult endocrinology, male hormone specialists, radiation oncologists, gynaecologists and fertility specialists.

The clinics are held twice a month and are located in the Oncology Treatment Centre on level two of the Hospital.

What happens at the appointment?

Depending on your diagnosis and treatment received, a series of tests will be organised on clinic day. These commonly include a blood test (full blood count, electrolytes, thyroid function and hormones) and an echocardiogram. Some patients also require a thyroid ultrasound, a lung function test, an eye review or a hearing test.

A treatment summary is prepared and given to you on the day. It's an especially important document for when you travel, relocate or move into the adult health system.

After the clinic visit, a report is sent to your GP (copied to you, your oncologist and other relevant specialists) detailing the outcomes of the clinic visit. The report will include your results, follow-up appointments and instructions. Another appointment is scheduled to ensure continuity of care.

Contact the LTFU clinic

More questions?

We're happy to answer them. Email the LTFU clinic or call us on (02) 7825 2141.

Our research

Our laboratory research arm is conducted within the Children's Cancer Research Unit. They aim for the highest standards in diagnosis, research, treatment and support.

The unit provides environment and resources for post-graduate study.

Tumour Bank

The Tumour Bank is a biobanking facility that collects paediatric cancer specimens to support scientists in clinical research aimed at improving cancer treatments for children. Specimen donations to the Tumour Bank are completely voluntary and are collected through the normal course of treatment for patients at our hospitals.

Last updated Wednesday 26th June 2024

Patient and family support

A smiling Aboriginal family.
Our Aboriginal Hospital Liaison and Education officers play an important role in the care and welfare of and advocacy for Aboriginal patients and families, helping ensure a responsive and respectful patient journey.
A young girl sits on her mother's lap on a hostpital bed.
We can arrange a free interpreter for you. Interpreters are available for over 50 languages. Tell us which language you speak when your child is admitted, or let your nurse know.
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The Cartula Health app helps manage and inform you about your healthcare journey at the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network. You can organise your appointments and hospital documents all in one place!