Modified Chemotherapy Offers Hope to 400,000 Children Diagnosed with Cancer Worldwide Every Year

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“If your child is diagnosed with cancer, that it is not a death sentence, and there are now many therapies that can help them with their lives,” says expert from a top American hospital, Cleveland Clinic Children’s

Dr. Rabi Hanna, Chairman of the Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, Cleveland Clinic Children

Cleveland, Ohio: Cost-effective and intensity-graduated treatments are being developed to maximize cure options and limit toxicity these therapies offers hope for the 400,000 children worldwide who are diagnosed with cancer every year, especially families in low- and middle-income countries, says an expert at a top American hospital, Cleveland Clinic Children’s.

Dr. Rabi Hanna, Chairman of the Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, Cleveland Clinic Children’s, said: “We want to give a message of hope to families, especially in low- and middle-income countries, that if your child is diagnosed with cancer, it is not their fault, nor is it a death sentence. There are now many therapies, including low-dose chemotherapy, based on the country resources, that can help children. We are also seeing more partnerships between Western hospitals and hospitals in low- and middle-income countries, and increasing use of organ transplants, when appropriate, to save lives.”

While more than 80 percent of childhood cancer cases can be cured in high-income countries, the rate plummets to only 15-45 percent in low- and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Families in low and middle-income countries can suffer due to issues of diagnosis, access to care, and lack of treatment options.

Dr. Hanna outlined four main types of childhood cancer treatment: chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy. Leukemia, the most common type of childhood cancer, needs only chemotherapy treatment with excellent outcomes.

“For most types of childhood cancers, they cannot be prevented or treated with simple surgery – and many families in low- and middle-income countries associate childhood cancer with death. Many families abandon treatment as they may not have the time, resources, or ability to travel to hospitals that are equipped with more advanced therapies,” added Dr. Hanna. “However, we are seeing the development of protocols for low-dose chemotherapy, which can be administered safely in low- and middle-income countries, with great results and without significant side effects. Childhood cancer treatment is often easier than it is in adults, as adults may also need surgery and radiation therapy.”

Every year, about 400,000 children are diagnosed with cancer, according to WHO. The most common types of childhood cancer include leukemia, brain cancer, lymphoma, and solid tumors, such as neuroblastoma or brain tumors. Dr. Hanna said that while the peak for diagnosis is between the ages of three and five years old, cancer can be present at any age – even at birth.

One of the bigger challenges in diagnosing childhood cancer is that the symptoms are similar to other diseases, for example, fever, weight loss, back pain, or swelling of the lymph nodes. Families should first consult a general practitioner, then be referred to a pediatric oncologist, who can give simple tests in blood cell counts, x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. Few childhood cancers can be actually first detected by parents or family relatives such as Retinoblastoma (cancer of the eye) through taking pictures and noticing white spots in the eye. Early attention and early care can save vision.

The development of remote health and telemedicine can enable remote monitoring and guidance of local health care giver by far experts. Another important development is that many scientific organizations in the United States and around the world, such as SIOP (The International Society of Pediatric Oncology) and the ASPHO (American Society of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology) are starting to have global childhood programs and are working together to build a better future for childhood cancer across the globe.

About Cleveland Clinic:

Cleveland Clinic – now in its centennial year – is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 70,800 employees worldwide are more than 4,660 salaried physicians and researchers, and 18,500 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,500-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 19 hospitals, more than 220 outpatient facilities, and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2020, there were 8.7 million total outpatient visits, 273,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 217,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries.