Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer: Experts Available to Discuss Pediatric Cancer

Expert Pitch

Newswise — A new report released by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and collaborators found that cancer incidence rates rose among children and adolescents. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, has experts available to comment on the report, discuss the progress made against childhood cancer and talk about the challenges that remain.

The Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer notes that cancer incidence rates increased 0.8 percent each year from 1992-2010 among children and teens. Importantly, the report also details that the advances made in pediatric oncology have led to long-term overall declines in death rates for this group. In the most recent 10-year period, cancer death rates among children ages 0 to14 declined 1.9 percent and children ages 0 to 19 declined 2.1 percent per year.

Experts Available:Richard J. Gilbertson, M.D., Ph.D., is director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center and director of the Division of Brain Tumor Research at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. His research is focused on pediatric brain tumors and understanding the link between normal development and the cellular and molecular origins of cancer. Gilbertson is also involved in a series of clinical trials looking at innovative ways to treat cancer and is a lead investigator with the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, a collaboration between St. Jude and Washington University in St. Louis. This project is using whole genome sequencing to identify the genetic changes that give rise to some of the deadliest pediatric cancers.

Leslie Robison, Ph.D., is an expert in epidemiology and etiology of childhood cancer, cancer survivorship, cancer outcomes research, and clinical trials in cancer prevention and control. At St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, he is chair of the Epidemiology and Cancer Control Department and associate director of its Cancer Prevention and Control program. He is also a principal investigator for the multi-institutional Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, a federally funded program that follows the health and well-being of survivors of childhood cancer treated at 26 medical centers in the U.S. and Canada. At St. Jude, studies published this year have found preventable risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity and elevated blood lipids pose serious threat to the heart health of childhood cancer survivors. St. Jude studies have also found that childhood cancer survivors overwhelmingly experience a significant amount of undiagnosed, serious disease through their adult years.

Ching-Hon Pui, M.D., is chair of the Department of Oncology at St. Jude. Pui’s research has changed clinical practices worldwide. His work showed that with personalized chemotherapy coupled new methods for monitoring treatment response, cranial irradiation—once a mainstay of treatment—could be omitted among children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common childhood cancer. The change reduces long-term, harsh side effects from treatment. Thanks to Pui-led research, cure rates for childhood ALL have soared and the survival gap among younger and older patients with the disease has closed.

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