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What New Treatments Can We Expect in the Future?

Originally published on November 10, 2009
Most recently updated on April 10, 2013

New Treatments

Many children’s tumor specialists are excited about treatments currently being researched and developed. They expect to see advances in several areas: less traumatic surgeries, new chemotherapeutic drugs and combinations of drugs that effectively could replace surgery and radiation therapy, chemotherapy with fewer side effects, treatments that marshal the body’s own immune system to kill tumor cells, and gene therapy.

One new type of therapy currently being tested is intrathecal (into the CSF) therapy. As more is learned about the molecular events in a cell that make it lose control, drugs that inhibit the loss of control are also being increasingly tested. Instead of attacking the tumor directly, some new drugs are targeted at the tumor’s blood supply in an attempt to starve the tumor. Another new therapy involves high-dose chemotherapy with autologous peripheral stem cell rescue. The results of these treatments are promising, but it is too early to tell which therapy provides the best hope for killing all the tumor cells with the fewest long-term side effects. Research must continue in specialized medical centers and children’s hospitals, where health care professionals are experienced at taking care of a child undergoing these types of treatment.

The media is always describing seemingly miraculous cures and treatments, and well-meaning friends and relatives may overwhelm you with books and articles about alternative therapies. Remember that only you, along with a doctor or team that you have confidence in, can evaluate these choices and decide on a treatment plan for your child. You likely will hear opinions that will make you second-guess your own judgment. Speak to your child’s doctors openly and do not be afraid to ask whatever questions are on your mind.

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