Cancer in children is not very common. Only about one percent of cancers diagnosed in the United States are in children. So community doctors usually have limited knowledge of pediatric cancer treatment. This is why almost all children with cancer in the United States receive treatment through one of the cancer centers that make up the Children’s Oncology Group (COG). Seattle Children’s, a Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) parent organization, is one of them.
The pediatric oncologists at Seattle Children’s have advanced training in diagnosing and treating childhood cancers. Their specialized education and experience makes a difference for children and families facing this disease. They understand the ways cancer starts and acts differently in children than in in adults. They create treatment plans based on well-established knowledge and the very latest research about what is most effective and safest when treating children and teenagers.
Seattle Children’s cancer treatment program brings together experts from more than 20 subspecialties to provide diagnositc services and treatments, including the very latest options.
Because Children’s doctors take part in national and international research studies, and often lead them, we are able to offer new treatment options that many other hospitals cannot. In 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked the Seattle Children’s cancer program number 5 in the nation.
If your child or teenager needs a bone marrow transplant, SCCA is the best place to receive this life-saving treatment. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, an SCCA parent organization, pioneered the use of bone marrow transplants as a treatment for leukemia more than 40 years ago. Since then tens of thousands of patients with leukemia have come from around the world to receive bone marrow transplants at SCCA.
Bone marrow transplants have transformed leukemia and related cancers, once thought incurable, into highly treatable diseases. In addition, the Fred Hutchinson Transplant Program at SCCA was ranked first in outcomes in a multi-year study by the National Marrow Donor Program that measured one-year survival rates of patients at 122 transplant centers in the United States. 1
Improving the Odds for Survival
SCCA has had great success performing bone marrow transplants for infants with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) diagnosed before the age of one year.
In these children, use of transplantation is controversial. COG, a national consortium of pediatric cancer care centers, recommends against transplantation for these children, says Dr. Jean Sanders, director of the Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Program at SCCA. However, their overall rate of disease-free survival is only 20 percent with conventional chemotherapy, she explains—while it’s 76 percent among those who receive a transplant through SCCA and the Hutchinson Center.
Overall, transplant results from COG institutions have not been as high as ours in infants with ALL, says Sanders, which most likely accounts for COG’s hesitation about recommending transplants in this group of children.
“I would like to perform transplants in more infants like this,” says Sanders, “because I think it is clearly in the infants’ best interest.”