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Lancet Oncology: Long-term side-effects of targeted therapies in pediatric cancer patients
Date:2/7/2013

A University of Colorado Cancer Center review published this week in the journal Lancet Oncology describes possible long-term side-effects of new, targeted therapies in pediatric cancer patients: what we don't know may hurt us.

"As pediatricians who treat kids with cancer, we expect the side-effects of traditional chemotherapies: low white blood count, infections, even long-term heart trouble or infertility. But there's the impression that these new, molecularly targeted agents are much less toxic. That may be true, especially in adult patients, but until we have more information about the long-term effects of these therapies in children, we need to be careful about how and when we prescribe them," says Chris Porter, MD, CU Cancer Center investigator and assistant professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Already we know that molecularly targeted therapies may stunt the growth of pediatric patients, delay puberty or speed the onset of diabetes. And researchers are just now starting to ask about additional, sometimes unforeseen side-effects, potentially including more subtle issues such as neurocognitive, balance and motor defects.

"The growth of cancer cells isn't that different than the growth of a 7-pound baby into a 210-pound teenage linebacker. Now, you shut down these growth pathways in an adult and it might not be a big deal, but you shut down these same pathways at a critical time in childhood development and you can have real problems," says Lia Gore, MD, CU Cancer Center investigator and associate professor of Pediatrics and Medical Oncology at the CU School of Medicine.

The practical problem is this: FDA approval of many of these drugs for adult use allows physicians to prescribe the same drugs for pediatric use. Many are pills orally administered, outpatient treatments that make it difficult to recognize and track possible side-effects even in the short-term, let alone 10, 15
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Contact: Garth Sundem
garth.sundem@ucdenver.edu
University of Colorado Denver
Source:Eurekalert

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