What’s on the horizon for childhood cancer

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Pediatric oncology is a rapidly evolving field. Just look at the last 40 years, during which childhood cancer has changed from a certain death sentence to a condition where some 80 percent of patients survive.

But 80 percent isn’t good enough, and there’s still a lot of work to do. For Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Lisa Diller, MD—chief medical officer of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center—looks ahead to what she sees as the four biggest trends in pediatric cancer research and care:

  • Precision medicine: “Treatment for cancers is now being transformed because we can genetically characterize an individual’s tumor, finding genetic changes that suggest specific targeted therapies.”
  • Immunotherapy: “Already there have been dramatic advances in melanoma outcomes and promising results in other adult-onset cancers. We are beginning to learn how to use this approach in pediatric cancers.”
  • Reducing toxicity: “Since the late 20th century, we have increasingly sought ways to reduce the toxicity of treatment to maintain cure rates with fewer late effects. These efforts will continue.”
  • Global health: “Because pediatric cancers are rare, pediatric oncology is a global community accustomed to collaborating internationally, which offers a good platform for a stronger focus on improving survival of childhood cancer globally. “

Read the details of Diller’s thoughts about the future of pediatric oncology.