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Pediatric Solid Tumors Still the Most Challenging for Doctors

By April 23, 2010December 18th, 2023Awareness, Science & Research

Survival rates following childhood cancer are now over 80%, but closer analysis shows the majority of success in the past 10 years has been in improved treatment of blood disorders such as leukemias. In contrast, solid tumors have remained the most challenging, and survival rates have not changed in the past 10-20 years. Though only a small proportion of NF-related tumors will be cancer (malignancy), it is important for us to see what we can learn from this finding, to ensure we advance as fast as possible with treatments for the benign tumors that can affect kids with NF1. 

So what is the reason? Thursday’s Wall Street Journal Health Blog discussed this with Eugenie Kleinerman, professor and head of pediatrics at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The reasons are those that we face with trying to find treatments for NF tumors: need to understand biology and test the right drug candidates; the small numbers of patients for each type of tumor makes it hard to do a proper study coordination with other centers is key; and the difficulties that can be faced in trying to bring an adult-approved drug to children (bevacizumab/Avastin for example was controversial for kids in case it stunted growth, leading to a 10-year delay in this drug being used in children). 

So what is most needed? Not surprisingly Dr. Kleinerman highlights the need for funding into childhood cancer studies and trials. He cites an example that from an NCI annual budget of $4.8 billion, only $173 million went to pediatric cancer. Hopefully this will change as the biology is unraveled, drugs are selected, and more pediatrics studies are designed and submitted to NIH for funding.