Improving Cure Rates for Childhood Cancer

CCH offers cutting edge research and treatment

 

By Daniel Greenfield, MD and David Slomiany, MD

 

Treatment for childhood cancer has evolved greatly over the past few decades and Cottage Children’s Hospital has been at the forefront of that effort. Because of research done here and around the country, currently 80 percent of all children diagnosed with cancer will be cured of their disease. This once “incurable” disease has been transformed into a series of curable conditions through the efforts of physician researchers, scientists, nurses and the willing participation of young patients.

 

The key to improving cure rates while decreasing morbidity has been the cooperative approach that pediatric oncologists have taken in clinical trials. We realized early that improving cure rates would only happen with clinical trials large enough to effectively answer relevant questions. A series of cooperative groups was formed, pooling our resources and providing sufficient patient numbers to advance the field. These groups then joined together to form one large group, The Children’s Oncology Group (COG), a National Cancer Institute-supported clinical trials group that is the world’s largest organization devoted exclusively to pediatric cancer research and treatment. 

 

Daniel Greenfield, MD

 

COG’s mission is “to cure and prevent childhood and adolescent cancer through scientific discovery and compassionate care.” Here at Cottage Children’s Hospital, over 200 patients have enrolled in these cooperative cancer treatment clinical trials designed to push cure rates even higher.

 

The improvement in cancer cure rates has also led to a paradigm shift in pediatric oncology toward long-term care of the cured patient. Pediatric oncologists realized that since four out of five children will survive cancer and enter into adulthood, we must also address issues of childhood cancer survivors’ physical and emotional health. On the research side, many new treatment studies now have embedded within them neuropsychological-emotional surveys to better understand the effect of cancer and its successful treatment on our patients.

 

 

David Slomiany, MD

As a COG center, Cottage Children’s Hospital offers the same cutting edge treatment clinical trials as the major pediatric medical centers throughout the country. Unlike the larger centers, we are small enough to provide the highest level of personal, family-centered care, looking beyond the cancer diagnosis and focusing on the child-family unit. Our patients tell us they appreciate the difference in our treatment approach.

 

Our team of pediatric experts includes physicians, surgeons, specialized nurses, pharmacists, therapists, nutritionists, child life specialists and social workers who provide coordinated, age-appropriate care. Referring physicians speak directly to our attending oncologists, who know and care for their patients. And families are able to stay in our community during the stressful period while their children are receiving treatment.

 

We believe offering state-of-the-art pediatric cancer treatment locally, without the need to travel long distances, is the best therapy for our families.

 

Research Highlights

90 percent: Cure rate for the most common childhood cancer, standard-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), in the most recent clinical trial

94 percent: Cure rate for low-risk ALL subgroup in the same clinical trial

5 percent: Improvement in cure rate for high-risk ALL using high-dose Methotrexate vs standard therapy

20 percent: Improvement in two-year event-free survival in stage IV neuroblastoma with the addition of immunotherapy compared to standard therapy

Less therapy? The current average-risk ALL study asks if we can reduce glucocorticoid and vincalkaloid exposure by almost one-third and still maintain 90 percent cure rates

 


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