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Pediatrics / Pediatric Research Newsletter / January 2012 / Childhood Cancer Research

January 2012 Newsletter

Childhood Cancer Research

It is hard enough to hear a dreaded cancer diagnosis in an adult.  Now imagine hearing it in reference to a child.  We have made enormous strides in the prevention and treatment of childhood cancer over the past several decades.  Most children with leukemias or lymphomas are cured.  Many children with brain cancer or bone cancer or kidney cancer live healthy lives. Too many do not.  And those who do survive are now faced with questions and issues that we didn't consider years ago. What do I tell my prospective employer about my health risks?  Am I at risk for a second cancer because of my radiation therapy?  Are my children at risk for this same disease?  In medicine and science, every answer brings new questions; every cure presents new challenges.

That is why we hope to endow our childhood cancer program. So we don’t have to worry from minute to minute about financing research. So we can plan in the long-term for the future and ensure continuity of programs from generation to generation. What are we doing? We run a training program for future pediatric hematologists and oncologists that just got approved for the maximum duration by our national accrediting body. Craig Mullen, M.D., Ph.D., is trying to harness the body’s own immune system to kill cancer cells in the bone marrow. Lisa Hackney, M.D., is URMC’s principal investigator in a national network of cancer treatment trials for children. Jeffrey Andolina, M.D., M.S., is launching new studies aimed at optimizing strategies for bone marrow transplantation. James Palis, M.D. is trying to understand the developmental program that drives formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow. All this, so maybe tomorrow, we won’t have to tell any family or child they are dealing with cancer.