Introduction: Paediatric tumours


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Pamela Kearns

University of Birmingham, UK

Abstract

The overall 5-year survival rate for childhood malignancies in the developed world is now around 75%. Some of the recent improvements in survival rates can be attributed to the effective application of our understanding of the biology of the disease. Unique molecular features of paediatric tumours have important applications diagnostically, but increasingly the relationship between molecular characteristics and tumour behaviour is being applied clinically.

Clear examples of the successful translation of science into patient benefit are seen in paediatric oncology: the stratification of treatment intensity based on molecular characteristics is effectively applied in neuroblastoma and the integration of minimal residual disease monitoring in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is now considered standard clinical practice.

Looking to the future, we now need to target these disease-specific molecular characteristics not only to improve survival but reduce acute and long term toxicity of treatment that remain a significant consequence of current therapeutic regimes.