Looking back over the last half a century—maybe not even that long—one can see how the conversation about treatment in pediatric oncology has evolved. It used to be that survival rate was the primary, maybe only, concern among pediatric oncologists. How can we help more children and achieve more cures?
Fast forward to today. With experience and experiment has come greater knowledge of the biology underlying many solid, neurological and hematologic malignancies. That knowledge has, in turn, opened opportunities to reduce the long-term toxicity of cancer treatment and improve survivorship along with survival. How can we help more children survive, and survive better?
“These discussions are no longer in the background. They’re right up front,” says Elizabeth Mullen, MD, of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center‘s Solid Tumor Center. “There’s much more focus on avoiding late toxicities because of the success rates that we see. It’s so much more of how we think now, even when we’re treating high-risk disease. It’s always part of the conversation.”