Childhood Cancer News From 2023

CURE® investigated important developments in the world of childhood cancer so far in 2023.

In honor of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September, here’s a look back at some of the top pediatric cancer developments from 2023.

Teaching Children — and the World — to Use Breathing Techniques for Cancer-Related Pain

Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg, the founder of Kids Kicking Cancer, discussed a valuable approach to managing cancer-related pain in children and how it benefits both young patients and their families. Alongside this, the podcast pinpoints importance of teaching children breathing techniques as a non-pharmacological method to eliminate pain and stress that correlates with cancer treatments.

“(Breathing) takes advantage of several elements and the role of physiology that allow the brain to say, ‘Wait a second, I’m not a victim. I’m a victor.’ That’s what these children teach in the world,” Goldberg said. “No matter what you face in your life, you can breathe in that light and breathe out darkness.”

Giving advice and helpful encourages health care professionals and parents to incorporate these techniques into the holistic care of children with cancer, which can impact their cancer experience.

Childhood Cancer Survivors Can Modify Death Risks

Researchers found that childhood cancer survivors face a higher risk of early death compared to the general population. However, by adopting healthier lifestyle choices such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and regular exercise, these survivors can significantly reduce their risk of early mortality.

“We identified that long-term survivors of childhood cancer are experiencing a large number of deaths in excess of what would be expected for the general, aging population,” first and corresponding author Dr. Stephanie Dixon, from the St. Jude department of oncology, said in a press release. “We were the first to find that decades after treatment, these excess deaths are

predominantly due to the same leading causes of death as in the general population, including second cancers, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease/stroke, chronic liver and kidney disease and infectious causes of death, experienced at a younger age and higher rate, in childhood cancer survivors.”

Long-term outcomes for childhood cancer still needs to be investigated and improved.

“The findings from the current analysis further emphasize the need to expand our efforts to reduce acute, chronic and late-onset toxicities of treatment, particularly those toxicities that can directly or indirectly result in premature mortality,” Robinson said in the release.

FDA Approves Keytruda for Adults, Children with MSI-H or dMMR Solid Cancers

The FDA has approved Keytruda for treatment in adults and children unresectable (not able to be removed via surgery) or metastatic microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR) solid tumors that have gotten worse after treatment and have no satisfactory treatment options.

“This approval reinforces the important role of Keytruda in certain patients with MSI-H or dMMR solid tumors facing a variety of cancers,” said Dr. Luis A. Diaz, Jr., head of the division of solid tumor oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, in a press release issued by Merck. “These data also further underscore the need for biomarker testing to identify patients who may be eligible for this therapy.”

The drug has already shown efficacy and safety in treating various cancer types, and this new approval provides hope for patients with MSI-High or dMMR solid tumors who have limited treatment options.

Drug Offers Long-Term Heart Protection for Childhood Cancer Survivors

New research has shown that children with cancer who were treated with dexrazoxane before undergoing chemotherapy had fewer cardiac complications compared to these who weren’t treated with dexrazoxane.

“Our real endpoint (s were) many years later, where the hearts healthier? Were they not symptomatic from heart failure or other heart issues? Could their quality of life be enhanced and maximized? That’s what’s really most important,” study author Dr. Steven E. Lipshultz, a pediatric cardiologist at Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo, Oishei Children’s Hospital, said in an interview with CURE®.

This news was prominent for childhood cancer survivors, as it may overall quality of life by eliminating the risk of heart-related complications in the future, providing them with reassurance throughout their cancer treatment.

For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.

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