What was once just a concept is now a reality: Precision pediatric cancer care to improve treatment.
Researchers can now sequence all the genes in the genome in an individual patient’s cancer to find gene changes or targets, and then in some cases, identify drugs that match those targets to improve treatment. (A genome includes all the genes in a cell, in this case, a cancer cell.)
This has absolutely transformed how doctors treat children with cancer in some cases.
As we close a difficult year, we reflect on lessons shared by childhood cancer patients and survivors who have faced adversity with grace, courage, and resilience. From their words, come some messages worth remembering now.St. Baldrick’s Honored Kid, Sarah Swaim, and two-time leukemia survivor shares how having support during her cancer diagnosis helped her to keep going.
What is acute myeloid leukemia (AML)?
Leukemia is cancer of the blood cells. Leukemia cells divide quickly and fail to mature into normal, functioning blood cells.
Acute leukemia progresses rapidly and is classified into two general subtypes:
- When the cancer affects the lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, it is called acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL.
- When the cancer affects other blood cell types, such as red blood cells, platelet-forming cells, and other types of white blood cells, it is called acute myeloid leukemia, or AML.
What is acute lymphoblastic leukemia?
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the white blood cells that normally fight infection. The cells do not grow and develop properly, filling up the bone marrow inside bones, where blood is normally made.
ALL is the most common type of childhood cancer, accounting for 35% of all cancers in children. Each year, there are about 2,900 new cases of children and adolescents diagnosed with ALL in the United States alone.
Its signs and symptoms resemble other common illnesses, which often leads to other treatments before the leukemia diagnosis is made.
The holiday season is about giving – and what better gift for your loved ones than something that helps a great cause, like taking childhood back from cancer. Not only are the items below awesome gift ideas, but a portion of each sale goes to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
I was recently invited to serve as a patient family advocate for the St. Baldrick’s / Stand Up to Cancer Pediatric Cancer Dream Team representing the National Cancer Institute. If you’re not familiar with the Dream Team and what they’re doing, it’s worth taking a few minutes to read up on the project.
In short, it’s a multi-institutional effort to accelerate cures for childhood cancer by sharing the skill, knowledge and unique resources of 8 top-notch research institutions.
Carlos Sandi with his son, Honored Kid and Ambassador Phineas.
Dr. Elliot Stieglitz is a St. Baldrick’s Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco. He’s researching ways to help kids with JMML who don’t respond to standard treatment. He explains JMML symptoms, treatment options, and how your support is moving research forward.
What is JMML?
Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) is a type of blood cancer that affects young children.
2017 was a big year, full of breakthroughs, incredible stories and some pretty amazing achievements in the childhood cancer world. Join us as we reflect on St. Baldrick’s top 10 highlights of the past year — and make sure you give yourself a pat on the back, because much of this was possible because of YOU!
Are you ready to take a trip down memory lane? Here we go …
1) Passage of the RACE Act
Usually, we pick one international winner of the Robert J. Arceci Innovation Award, but what happens when there are two equally deserving researchers with big ideas and big hearts for kids with cancer? Read on to find out!
After being nominated for the International Robert J. Arceci Innovation Award, (left) Dr. Franck Bourdeaut and (right) Dr. Jan-Henning Klusmann were both selected by a committee of experts and are being presented with the award today at the annual conference for the International Society of Paediatric Oncology.
Dr. Robert Arceci was a passionate innovator who dreamed big. He was a pioneer who knew that kids with cancer deserve better than what doctors can offer them and that breakthroughs are born from taking risks.
That’s why the international winner of the award established in his memory – the Robert J. Arceci Innovation Award – is given the resources and the freedom to follow their curiosity, pioneering spirit, and their passion for kids’ cancer research, wherever it leads.
Except this year, it’s winners of the Robert J. Arceci Innovation Award!
It is said that to defeat an enemy, you must know them — and that’s exactly what St. Baldrick’s Scholar Dr. Grzegorz Nalepa is doing. The enemy? Childhood cancer. His weapon? Genomics — the study of all the genes within an organism, like a human child with cancer for instance. Who is winning? Read on to find out. (Hint, hint…it’s the good guy.)
St. Baldrick’s Scholar Dr. Grzegorz Nalepa amuses a young patient by making her the doctor, instead of him.
For St. Baldrick’s Scholar Dr. Grzegorz Nalepa, childhood cancer treatment can’t be one-size-fits-all. To be successful, it needs to be personal.
That’s why this physician-scientist studies what makes everyone unique, including kids with cancer – genes.
With support from St. Baldrick’s and a deep passion for the field of genomics, Dr. Nalepa is studying how the genetic changes, or mutations, present in kids with leukemia can be exploited to create targeted therapies against that cancer, with few side effects.
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