Childhood Cancer: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 08/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done to learn more about childhood cancer and how to treat it. Use the menu to see other pages.

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 children 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(s) about the best diagnostic and treatment options.

  • Advances in treatment and follow-up care. The Children’s Oncology Group conducts large clinical trials for most types of childhood cancers. It also conducts studies on quality of life and late effects of cancer after successful treatment. The Childhood Cancer Survivor Study is a long-term, follow-up study of people who were treated many years ago to better understand the late effects of childhood 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. All of these groups are sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. The National Institutes of Health Clinical Center has on-site pediatric clinical trials for children with cancer. (Please note these links take you to separate websites.)

  • Reducing childhood radiation exposure. To reduce a child's need for radiation therapy, doctors may use chemotherapy with a combination of drugs after surgery or use new drug combinations. Researchers are also investigating newer radiation therapy techniques, such as proton therapy, that more precisely focus radiation treatment at the tumor and not the surrounding healthy tissue.

  • Palliative and supportive care and survivorship care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of childhood cancer treatments in order to improve comfort and quality of life during and after treatment. 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 possible side 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 ears).

Looking for More About Latest Research?

If you would like more information about the latest areas of research in childhood cancer, explore these related items that take you outside of this guide:

The next section in this guide is Coping with Treatment. It offers some guidance on how to cope with the physical, emotional, social, and financial changes that cancer and its treatment can bring. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.