layla smithAlthough pediatric cancers are less common than adult malignancies, the impact of cancer on children and their families is nothing short of devastating.

Over the past 40 years, cooperative research efforts (primarily through the Children’s Oncology Group) have resulted in dramatic increases in cure rates for most pediatric cancers.

Nevertheless, substantial numbers of children with cancer still succumb to their disease, and even larger numbers of pediatric patients suffer significant long-term late effects because of the intensity of the therapies required to achieve cure. Research into the pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying pediatric tumors is essential to develop novel therapeutic approaches that will yield higher rates of cure and fewer side effects.

Treatment & Research

Duke investigators have a strong history of involvement in both clinical and basic research arenas and have contributed to cutting-edge advances in both understanding and treating a variety of pediatric tumors. The Pediatric Cancer disease group encompasses logical intersections with DCI disease-based programs in Brain Tumor (incorporating neuroblastoma), Hematologic Malignancies, and Sarcoma. The program includes:

  • A group of basic investigators interested in understanding childhood cancers (using approaches ranging from genomics to animal models to preclinical testing) and committed to advancing treatment of patients with these disease
  • A group of clinicians who treat children with cancer who work with basic scientists to facilitate access to samples and also to challenge them to focus on the most relevant and important clinical problems 
  • Members of the Pediatric Cancer disease group have nationally recognized expertise in studying the pathogenesis of and participating in cutting edge clinical trials focused on treating a number of pediatric malignancies:
    • Pediatric brain tumors
    • Rhabdomyosarcoma
    • Neuroblastoma
    • Acute leukemia

Through these collaborative efforts, the program will contribute to further improving our understanding of how pediatric cancers arise, and developing new treatment paradigms that will lead to higher cure rates and less morbidity.