The Battle Against Childhood Cancers
Written by Adam Groff
Fortunately, as technology advances, so does the fight against childhood cancer. So, how are the advancements in healthcare technology improving patient outcomes and which childhood cancers are still troubling doctors?
According to Stephen Sallan, MD, the Chief of Staff Emeritus at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, one of the leading pediatric cancer centers in the country, the latest data shows that the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common form of childhood cancer, is roughly 90%.
Considering that percentage is the highest its been in recent years, it’s obvious doctors are discovering breakthroughs in childhood cancer treatment.
Here are just a few more reasons the medical world is hopeful in terms of advancements in pediatric cancer treatment.
Fewer Side Effects– With all the radiation treatments and painful procedures children with cancer must go through, it’s reassuring to know doctors are finding ways to lessen the side effects.
For example, children with Hodgkin lymphoma are receiving lower doses of radiation, yet seeing the same positive results due to advancements with the way in which the radiation is administered.
Improved Quality of Life– For those younger patients receiving chemotherapy, more than 85% of cancer therapy can now be done in an outpatient setting all do to recent developments in outpatient procedures. So, children no longer have to be admitted to the hospital for cancer therapy.
Detection– One of the main causes of cancerous cells returning is the inability to detect trace amount of leukemia and other leading childhood cancers. But, with the recent technological advancements in cancer screening equipment, doctors can better locate cancerous cells before they have a chance to spread.
Personalized Therapy – Cancer takes hold in different forms from one young patient to the next. Because of this, specialized cancer therapies that target cell alterations specific to each patient are being used everyday. For younger patients especially, this advanced form of therapy will no longer be as damaging to healthy tissue and cells.
Although recent healthcare advancements are tackling common childhood cancers while also giving children the quality of life they deserve, there are still some cancers out there that are troubling the medical field.
Rare cancers commonly found in adults are beginning to show up in child patients. According to the Children’s Cancer and Leukemia Group, these cancers make up for 1 and 30 of all childhood cases.
Digestive system, adrenal gland, and thyroid cancer once found only in adults are becoming more and more common in younger patients. So are neck and head cancers like nasopharyngeal and meningioma.
In addition, cancerous tumors specific to infants and younger patients are also on the rise. Malignant rhabdoid and melanotic neuroectodermal tumors are becoming more of a concern to doctors as the number of cases increase.
Regardless of how rare some childhood cancers are, it’s important to keep in mind that the cancers that were once considered rare are now commonly treated.
Hopefully every new form of childhood cancer that comes about will be met and beat by the next technological advancement in healthcare.
About the Author
Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including personal health, disposable diapers, and family.
Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”