The Childhood Cancer Blog

Major Advances in Childhood Cancer Research in 2011

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As 2011 comes to an end, we celebrate not only our brave childhood cancer heroes, but also the dedicated researchers and scientists who continue to work toward better treatments and realizing Alex’s vision of eradicating childhood cancer. These men and women are of all ages and levels in their careers and face significant challenges in the field, most notably that childhood cancer research is vastly and consistently underfunded.

Despite this, we at Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation remain optimistic that a cure will be found and steadfast in our efforts to support this research with the funds that we raise. Although there is a great deal of work to be done, we’re getting there. Case in point, in 2011, results from two research studies have led to major advances in the way two forms of childhood cancer are treated.

Results from a study out of St. Anna Children’s Hospital and Research Institute in Austria showed that a new high-dose combination of chemotherapy drugs significantly improved survival for children with high risk neuroblastoma, establishing a new standard of care. Neuroblastoma, the type of cancer that Alex had, accounts for approximately 15 percent of childhood cancer deaths and about 40 percent of cases are considered high risk, meaning they will probably recur despite therapy. The chemo combo showed such strong results that the randomization in the trial was stopped and all of the children enrolled were given the new regimen. You can understand why this is a big deal.

Another “game changer” this year was when researchers in a Children’s Oncology Group (COG) trial found that a new, higher-dose chemotherapy regimen improved the cure rate for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), boosting it to more than 80 percent. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common leukemia in children, but relapses continue to be a problem. This new therapy proved to be better than previous treatments at preventing relapses as well as extending survival, once again resulting in a new standard of care for children with high risk ALL.

So, you can see why it is critical that childhood cancer research continues to receive adequate funding to support these studies that are truly saving the lives of children with cancer. Funding is also needed to expand the scope of research to not only prolong life, but also improve the quality of life for childhood cancer patients before, during and after treatment.

We applaud all of the researchers who are working so hard to better the lives of children with the disease and we’ll continue to support their efforts in our fight against childhood cancer. Who knows, maybe 2012 will be the year that leads to the cure….

Have a happy and healthy start to 2012!

On a lighter note…we’re hoping that you’ll provide us with some feedback about our blog as we look to improve upon it for 2012. Are there any posts that you particularly like or others you don’t necessarily want to hear about? Do you like guest bloggers, off-topic blogs, etc…? Leave a comment or shoot us an email so we can help make this more of what you’re looking for in the coming year.