Research into Pediatric Solid Tumors is Needed for New Therapies

Though it may surprise you, according to an article from CURE magazine, there’s a lot that makes solid tumors in children different from solid tumors in adults. They can be so different, in fact, that researchers still spend a lot of time and resources determining just how different they are.

The Childhood Solid Tumor Network (or CSTN), operated by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, conducts extensive research into pediatric solid tumors. This research includes the use of high tech preclinical models and advanced screenings that offer better insight into the best course of treatment for certain pediatric cancers. The CSTN then makes resources, data, and research samples available to scientists around the world at no cost.

About Pediatric Solid Tumors

There is a little in common between adult and pediatric solid tumors. Solid tumors do not contain liquids or cysts, and only some may be malignant. However, sarcomas, carcinomas, and lymphomas are all types of solid tumor, and their associated cancers can be aggressive.

Solid tumors comprise about 1/3 of children’s cancers. Overall, pediatric cancer has a roughly 83% cure rate. Leukemia (cancers of the blood), have an impressive 95% cure rate in pediatric cases. However, in the 1/3 of the cases where solid tumors exist, the prognosis can be much less hopeful. In cases where pediatric patients’ solid tumors are reoccurring, survival rate can drop to as low as 20%. In particular, patients treated for sarcomas have a much higher risk of experiencing chronic, adverse side effects from their anti-cancer therapies.

A better understanding of these pediatric solid tumors is required to formulate safer and more effective methods of treatment. The development of new treatments is of particular concern for those exposed frequently to highly toxic chemotherapy drugs, such as those with aggressive sarcomas.

About the Childhood Solid Tumor Network

The CSTN grows sample tumor cells and tissue to test them against experimental anticancer drugs.  This is only possible thanks to the efforts of over 500 individuals who have donated samples of their tumor tissues to the organization. 200 of the samples, comprising dozens of cancer types, have been reproduced in the lab for the purpose of study. Some of these cancers were extremely rare, and opportunities to study them have been highly limited.

These laboratory productions can assist in clinical trials, which will occasionally yield new treatments. Unlike many research institutions that only publish results at the conclusions of lengthy trials, St. Jude and the CSTN make every effort to disseminate raw information and data as soon as it’s collected. The organizations believe that wide publication and corroboration of data is an important aspect of developing new therapies in labs around the world.

It’s at least somewhat comforting to know that though the admirable efforts and attitudes of research organizations like St. Jude and the CSTN, pediatric cancer patients will seemingly always have scientific and medical advocates.

Do you think more organizations should participate in widespread data sharing like the CSTN? Why or why not? Share your thoughts with Patient Worthy!

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