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Doctors are working to learn more about childhood cancer, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your child’s doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for your child.
Advances in treatment and follow-up care. The Children’s Oncology Group conducts large clinical trials for most types of pediatric cancer. It also conducts studies on quality of life and late effects of cancer after successful treatment. The Childhood Cancer Survivor Study conducts long-term, follow-up studies of patients who were treated many years ago to determine the late effects of cancer and its treatment, so new treatments can be developed to avoid serious side effects. Other groups, including the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium and the New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Therapy Consortium, perform studies of new drugs for specific types of cancer.
Reducing a child’s exposure to radiation. Because children have an increased risk of developmental damage and second cancers from radiation therapy, doctors prefer to use radiation therapy less often whenever possible. In place of radiation therapy, doctors may use chemotherapy with a combination of drugs after surgery or use new drug combinations. Researchers are also investigating new techniques such as proton therapy that more precisely focus radiation treatment at the tumor and not the surrounding healthy tissue.
Supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing other symptoms and side effects of current childhood cancer treatments in order to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life. For example, drugs called filgrastim (Neupogen) and pegfilgrastim (Neulasta) may help patients produce more white blood cells after radiation treatment and chemotherapy. Doctors are also studying chemoprotective drugs that may help protect the body from the harmful effects of chemotherapy, especially mucositis (mouth sores). Additionally, this area of research includes studies in cardioprotection (protecting the heart and cardiovascular system from chemotherapy) and otoprotection (protecting against damage to the ear).
Learn more about common statistical terms used in cancer research.
Looking for More about Current Research?
If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding childhood cancer, explore these related items:
- To find clinical trials specific to your child’s diagnosis, talk with the doctor or search online clinical trial databases now.
- Review research announced at recent scientific meetings or in ASCO’s peer-reviewed journals.
- Read ASCO’s latest Clinical Cancer Advances report, which highlights top research findings over the past year.
- Visit ASCO’s CancerProgress.Net website to learn more about the historical pace of research for childhood cancer.
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