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Pediatric cancers

SIRIC team
01/23/2019
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Pediatric and young adult cancers are a set of very varied pathologies by their incidence, their localization and their clinical outcome. For some diseases improved treatments over the last few decades have had a significant impact on their management but for others, the progress has plateaued. There are still a number of unmet medical needs. Developing new therapeutic approaches in particular is urgent for the 20% of patients for whom the disease will ultimately end up being refractory to current treatments.
Un patient pédiatrique à l'Institut Curie

Specific and diverse diseases

Pediatric cancers are separated from adult cancers by their localization and incidence. A cancer diagnosis will affect around 1 800 children and 700 young adults (between 15 and 18) per year in France. For children half of cancers occur before the age of 5 and sometimes from birth.

The most common cancers:

  • Leukemia (bone marrow and blood, 29%)
  • Brain tumors (brain and spinal cord, 24%)
  • Lymphoma (lymph node and lymphatic system, 11%)
  • Embryonic tumors which account for a quarter of childhood cancers
  • Nephroblastoma (kidneys)
  • Neuroblastoma (adrenal gland and sympathetic nervous system)
  • Sarcomas including rhabdomyosarcomes or rhabdoid tumors (muscles and supporting tissue)
  • And many others (kidney, bone, melanoma, liver…)

Clinical management

Disease management depends on the type of cancer and patient characteristics. It’s usually treated with surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy or hematopoietic stem cell transplants.

Recent advances in immunotherapy and targeted therapies as well as therapies aiming to modify the composition of the tumor or its microenvironment are very promising but research is still needed to translate these results to clinical routine. Medical research is an integral part of treatment and an essential element to continue to progress and cure more and more children with fewer risks and consequences. For this, clinical trials conducted with patients are essential to improve treatments.