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Treatments and Trials Usher In Hope for the Future
In the not-too-distant past, the outlook for childhood leukemia patients was grim. Low survival rates gave little hope to the families. Today, research has given patients and families more options as new and promising treatments have emerged. Treatments that target specific areas, aligned with the patient’s biology and DNA have shown to be promising both now and for the future.
Those who work in the field of oncology have moved forward past the one size fits all practice of treating each cancer patient with the same medicines. Multi-arm trials that use genomic sequencing, using specific patient biology, are used in targeted therapy. According to the Medical Research Council, the benefit of a multi-arm trial is that it increases the probability of finding an effective treatment. A greater number of treatments are tested at once and the costs are cut in half. Testing more than one therapy has a benefit as the hematological malignancies number in the hundreds and no single treatment can target them all.
The 5-year survival rate for children with ALL has greatly increased over time and is now about 90% overall.
To treat the patient with precision, multiple therapies may be required. An understanding of the tumor and what causes it to grow can be found by studying the biomarkers, enabling the team of doctors to create a specific combination of treatments that will work with the patient’s own particular biology and condition.
A patient may have chosen the best team of doctors. However, the devastation that follows after learning they have cancer can keep them from absorbing the information needed to tackle the life-changing decisions that must be made, often within the first 24 to 48 hours. For this reason the patient’s support system, family and friends who can advocate for them can be a critical lifeline. Organizations such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society not only support the research that brings the cures: they offer support services for patient, family, friends and caregivers.
Watch Stealth on Health Episode 7 below to learn more about the advances, trials and treatments for leukemia, lymphoma and other cancers.