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Children's Hospital Cancer Study Finds Adolescents and Young Adults Don't Get Same Access to Cutting-Edge Treatment as Younger Patients
Date:1/15/2008

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- The overall survival rate from cancer now is lower in older adolescents and young adults with cancer than in younger children, in part because of a lack of access to clinical trials nationally for the older age group, according to a study by pediatric oncologists at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Nationally, cure rates in children younger than 15 with cancer have improved dramatically over the last 30 years, increasing from 60 percent to approximately 85 percent at five years from the time of diagnosis. In contrast, similar improvements in survival rates have not been seen in adolescents and young adults ages 15-22, with cure rates remaining steady at approximately 70 percent throughout the same time period.

This can be attributed to the fact that adolescents and young adults don't have the same access to cutting-edge cancer treatments provided though clinical trials, according to the study led by Peter Shaw, MD, a pediatric hematologist/oncologist at Children's Hospital and the director of the hospital's Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Oncology Program.

The study is published in the December issue of the Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.

"Research has shown that patients who are enrolled in clinical trials offering the most advanced cancer treatments do better than patients who receive conventional treatment," Dr. Shaw said. "Adolescents and young adults with cancer are less likely than younger children to be enrolled in clinical trials for two important reasons: the first factor is that AYA patients are frequently treated by adult oncologists at hospitals that aren't participating in clinical trials designed for cancers occurring in the pediatric and adolescent age groups. Our study demonstrated the second reason, which is that nationally, there are many more clinical trials available for the types of malignancies that most often occur in the younger patients

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SOURCE Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
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