What’s New in the Treatment of Pediatric Leukemia?

Medically reviewed by Lewis Silverman, MD A greater understanding of the genomics of pediatric leukemia — the genetic errors and irregularities that underlie the disease — has enabled researchers to divide the disease into additional subtypes. This has improved physicians’ ability to identify patients with an increased risk of relapse and to prescribe treatments to … Continued

Single-Cell Sequencing Reveals Glioblastoma’s Shape-Shifting Nature

This post was originally published on Discoveries, the blog of Boston Children’s Hospital. Glioblastoma, a cancer that arises in the brain’s supporting glial cells, is one of the worst diagnoses a child can receive. The grade IV, highly malignant tumor aggressively infiltrates healthy brain tissue, and most children die of the disease within one to … Continued

Tips for Managing Your Child’s Treatment-Related Nausea

Medically reviewed by Kristen Uhl, PhD Treatment-induced nausea is an unpleasant side effect that can occur before, during, or after cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. Antiemetic medications are typically used to treat nausea and vomiting, but there are other strategies that can help. Kristen Uhl, PhD, of Pediatric Psychosocial Oncology at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s … Continued

What is Aplastic Anemia and How Is It Treated?

Aplastic anemia is a rare but serious blood disorder that occurs when the body’s bone marrow cannot produce enough healthy blood cells to function properly. Aplastic anemia can occur in both children and adults. Most cases of aplastic anemia are idiopathic, meaning the underlying cause is unknown. The blood disorder can have inherited (genetic) causes … Continued

Limb-Salvage Surgery Proves Hole-in-One Decision for Pediatric Cancer Survivor

It was quite a spring for Andrew Hedberg. The rising high school sophomore made the varsity golf team and was elected class president for the upcoming school year. Most importantly, the bone cancer that once threatened his left leg and his life remained in remission. All of this validated the decision that Andrew’s family made … Continued

Which Genetic Syndromes Can Increase a Child’s Risk of Cancer?

Medically reviewed by Junne Kamihara, MD, PhD Inherited cancers account for at least 5 to 10 percent of all pediatric cancers. The same advances in technology that have enabled scientists to decode the human genome now allow doctors to determine when a child has been born with an error (mutation) in a specific gene that … Continued

8 Common Childhood Cancer Myths and Questions

Childhood cancer is rare, but when it happens, it usually brings up an endless stream of questions for parents. How did this happen? What will life be like for my child? In this episode of Cancer Mythbusters from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, we talk about some of the most common questions and myths about childhood cancer … Continued

Pediatric Cancer Survivor Still Flourishing a Half-Century Later

When Susan Villanueva was just 11 months old, she was diagnosed with cancer. It took her a long time to come to grips with her experience — but more than 50 years later, she is serving as inspiration for patients, survivors, and beyond. In 1969, Villanueva was originally taken to the hospital to address symptoms … Continued

What is Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome and How is it Treated?

Classified as a form of bone marrow failure, Shwachman-Diamond syndrome (SDS) is a rare, inherited condition that is usually diagnosed in children but is increasingly diagnosed in adults. The frequency of SDS is unclear, but is estimated to affect about one in 75,000 people. SDS is characterized by inadequate production of pancreatic enzymes, which are … Continued

What is the Difference Between Gene Therapy and Immunotherapy?

Gene therapy and immunotherapy are both types of treatment for cancer and other diseases, and they have some points at which they intersect. But ultimately they represent different approaches to disease therapy. Most diseases aren’t caused by a single mutant gene — an alteration in the DNA sequence — but some mainly rare, inherited disorders, … Continued

What to Consider When You’re Picking a Pediatric Cancer Surgeon

As a parent or caregiver, it’s only natural for you to want the best for your child. But when it comes to a cancer diagnosis, specifically one that requires surgery as part of treatment, how do you know what the “best” is?  Here are five things to consider when you’re selecting a pediatric surgeon. Expertise … Continued

Tips for Coping with a Cancer Recurrence

In some cases, despite a cancer care team’s best effort, cancer comes back after treatment. This is known as a relapse or recurrence. The news can have a similar emotional impact to a patient’s initial diagnosis; patients may experience shock or feel overwhelmed. Everyone’s experience is different, and the most important thing you can do … Continued

Pediatric Leukemia: What are the Signs and Symptoms?

Leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood that develops in the bone marrow. The disease is the most common type of childhood cancer, and it typically presents in children between the ages of two and six. Still, the disease is rare in children; leukemia is most commonly seen in adults.    Subtypes of … Continued

Athlete Getting Back on the Field After Low-Grade Glioma

This post was originally published on Thriving, Boston Children’s Hospital’s pediatric health blog. It started with muscle aches in her shoulders, almost like spasms, while she slept. The pain was awful, and nothing seemed to bring relief. But because Erin Holmberg is a varsity three-sport athlete—soccer, basketball and track—everyone assumed it was muscular pain caused … Continued

What is an Alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP) Tumor Marker Test?

Tumor markers are substances in the human body that are produced by tumors and secreted into the blood, urine, or other bodily fluids. Certain benign conditions can also raise these markers, but significant elevations or a progressive rise can indicate a malignant process.  An AFP, or alpha-fetoprotein, tumor marker test—one of many different types of … Continued

50-Year-Old Mystery Solved—With Clues to Making More Red Blood Cells

This post was originally published on Vector, Boston Children’s Hospital’s science and clinical innovation blog. Back in the 1950s, doctors began using steroids to treat Diamond-Blackfan anemia, or DBA, a severe condition in which patients cannot make enough red blood cells. There was no real rationale for using steroids, but there was no other good option, … Continued

Overriding Resistance to Epigenetic Inhibitors in Neuroblastoma: Targeting PI3K

This post originally appeared on Vector, Boston Children’s Hospital’s science and clinical innovation blog. Children’s cancers pose unique challenges. They’re not caused by the same kinds of genetic mutations that cause adult cancers, and only a minority of their mutations can be targeted with drugs. In a recent study, Kimberly Stegmaier, MD, at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer … Continued

Now in Remission, Pediatric Cancer Patient is Inspiration for Her Family

Kids often rely on their parents for inspiration, but for Kevin and Becky McAvoy, it’s their five-year-old daughter Avery who provides the spark. Avery was less than a year old when she was diagnosed with metastatic neuroblastoma, the most common type of cancer in infants. Her cancer contained an anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) mutation. The … Continued