What advances have been made in childhood cancers?
I started working in this field about 30 years ago. When I started about half of the children with leukaemia were cured but half of them sadly died despite the therapy offered at the time. Now in ALL over 80-90 per cent of the children are cured, in some subtypes almost 100 per cent are cured. There are, however, leukaemias that aren’t easily curable and you have to give strong treatment to try and win. We don’t cure all children, but we cure many more than we used to.
What kind of treatments are children going through?
The sort of treatments we’re using are still based upon chemotherapy
drugs. One of the things that has made childhood cancer treatment successful is that children are very resilient. They can tolerate a much bigger dose per body weight than an adult can so we’re able to give bigger doses that are more effective. Also, the tumour types are less diverse. Generally they only have one or two genetic mutations and so they respond all at once rather than having subgroups that can take over.