CHILDHOOD CANCER RESEARCH
Advances in modern medicine continue to progress at a remarkable rate? as a result of scientific research initiatives (i.e. malaria, diphtheria, measles, pertussis/whooping cough, pneumococcus, tetanus, typhoid fever, yellow fever, tuberculosis, and smallpox), a vast number of formerly deadly diseases no longer pose a significant health risk to children living in the United States today. Research and clinical trials are also responsible for increasing the survival rates of many adult cancers that were previously considered terminal. Yet despite the ongoing global effort to prevent, manage, and cure cancer, the specific needs of children and adolescents with cancer are often overlooked.
Clinical research is the key to finding a cure for any disease; however, properly executed clinical trials require a significant amount of funding. Unfortunately, federal funding and pharmaceutical research initiatives are primarily devoted to finding cures for diseases that affect the largest number of patients (i.e. breast cancer, AIDS). The market for rare pediatric cancer treatments is so small that pharmaceutical companies lack the financial incentives to develop new?childhood cancer?medications, leaving children with limited treatment options and excessively harsh (and often unsafe) drugs and treatments that were originally formulated to treat adult cancers.
Adult cancer treatments given to children (even at lower doses) are not optimal therapeutic options, primarily because there are so many different types/subtypes of pediatric cancers and because the immune system of a child is not strong enough to withstand the intense side effects of adult cancer treatments. Specialized medications for?childhood cancer?must be developed to treat the many forms of?childhood cancer?while respecting the limitations of a child?s immune system and mitigating the risk of late effects.