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Emergence of cancer as major cause of childhood death in developing countries is not being adequately addressed

ning, which is already in place in Central and South America, Africa and Southeast Asia, thanks to the efforts of the International Society of Pediatric Oncology, several institutions in Europe and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in the United States. St. Jude has already assisted several developing countries in significantly improving the cure rates of leukemia—the most common childhood cancer—as well as Burkitt lymphoma, Wilms tumor, Hodgkin disease and other curable malignancies.

“We’ve found that recruiting local oncologists to serve as program directors gives the best results,?Ribeiro said. “The recruited oncologists serve as program directors, advocates of pediatric oncology units and coordinators of training for essential cancer care providers.?/p>

The authors argue that even the low level of development that exists in some parts of the world is not an insurmountable obstacle to establishing a productive twinning relationship. A program that concentrates on education, training and the treatment of the most responsive cancers could be effective. For example, in parts of Africa it might be possible to successfully treat children who have Burkitt’s lymphoma using a single drug, cyclophosphamide. Such twinning projects can be supported initially by the partner in the more affluent country, the authors say. Local charitable groups can raise funds to support an oncology program.

Another benefit of twinning would be broadening the scope of cancer research to include cases in developing countries. This would facilitate studies of the roles that genetic background, environment and lifestyle play in susceptibility to cancer and pathogenesis of particular cancers. Such studies would be easier to conduct if pediatric cancer units are created in resource-poor nations and if their development promotes international cell and tissue banks and the ability to collect long-term treatment follow-up data.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
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Source:St. Jude Children's Research Hospital


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