Collaboration Key to Treating Childhood Cancer

Research efforts in the United States are helping boost treatment outcomes across the planet.

The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, are committed to fuelling discoveries and strengthening the worldwide collaboration among researchers and clinicians focused on childhood cancer. Doing so will help to accelerate the advances that will allow many more of our youngest who is diagnosed with cancer to lead long, fulfilling lives.

While NCI’s primary focus is on reducing the cancer burden in the United States, medical advances that originate in our country has a long history of contributing to global health. For example, the first successful chemotherapy was against childhood leukaemia. This life-saving discovery, along with others against this disease, was made in the U.S. and has subsequently been disseminated to many other countries.

A goal of many clinical trials is to find ways to reduce the intensity of cancer treatments without compromising treatment effectiveness. Lower doses of radiation and chemotherapy can mean fewer side effects, such as hearing loss, the development of second cancers, or loss of fertility. Less intense treatments also have the added benefit of requiring fewer resources to treat more patients, a critical consideration in all countries.

The greatest potential of the vaccine to improve public health that lies in its ability to dramatically reduce the burden of cervical cancer in less developed regions of the world, where cervical cancer remains a frequent cause of death among women. One major focus of research in childhood cancers is to develop more effective, less-toxic treatments. They are learning more every day about the biology of cancers and use that knowledge to guide how we might better treat the disease while, at the same time, preserving healthy cells and tissues.

Clinical trials are studies that determine whether new treatments work and how safe they are.