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Every cancer treatment that now exists for children was tested in a clinical trial.
Clinical research and clinical trials are the only way to develop new and better therapies for children who have cancer. Pediatric research studies and clinical trials find safe and effective therapies and improve ways of preventing and diagnosing cancer in children. Clinical trials are the reason why treatment outcomes for certain childhood cancers have improved from just a few children surviving in the 1960s to a better than 85% cure rate today, depending upon the type of cancer.
While most oncology treatments currently prescribed for children have first been approved in adults, many cancer drugs have not yet been tested on children.
Not only do many cancers present very differently in children than they do in adults, medications and treatments also affect children differently than they affect adults, and children differ by age in how they react to treatment.
“Getting more pediatric patients with cancer involved in clinical trials is an essential step to developing better cancer therapies that are both safe and effective,” says Deepa Bhojwani, MD, Director, Leukemia and Lymphoma Program at CHLA. “Our research is informed by the needs of our patients, and what we learn from our patients day-by-day helps guide the work we do in the lab. Working at a pediatric research hospital makes this productive relationship between observation, learning, and innovation possible and can result in real advancements. We want to find better therapies that work for our patients--as well as effective therapies approved for patients more quickly. Conducting clinical trials at a pediatric hospital enables us to keep improving patient outcomes in these often rare and difficult cancers.”
But not every children’s hospital has clinical research capabilities. Finding a pediatric hospital that conducts both research and clinical trials can improve your child’s treatment outcomes in several ways:
“Clinical trials are not only for patients who do not respond to standard treatment, or who have rare cancers,” says Dr. Bhojwani. “The majority of our patients are enrolled at the time of new diagnosis. For frontline therapy, participation could be beneficial for access to new cutting-edge treatments that could be potentially more effective than standard therapies.”
Pediatric research hospitals and academic medical centers can match children with rare cancers to National Institutes of Health-sponsored clinical trials around the country. By participating in a clinical trial, patients can also contribute to advancing medical science and the development of new therapies that can benefit others.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles offers expert care grounded in years of research in pediatric cancers and blood disorders. The goal of our research is to give our young patients a better chance of survival and improved quality of life during and after treatment. We stand out among research hospitals because:
CHLA maintains strict rules for clinical trial participation which are designed to ensure patient safety and avoid any questions about patient consent. All clinical trials follow an established and approved plan, called a protocol, to ensure the highest degree of safety possible. Clinical trials are only conducted on children with full disclosure and permission.
Our efforts have led to breakthroughs that are transforming the way doctors around the world treat complex cancers.