Precision medicine or also called “personalized medicine”; It is presented as an innovative therapy, based on the adaptation of medical treatment to the individual characteristics of each patient. In some cases, there is the possibility of detecting a specific genetic alteration in the tumor, and having a drug that specifically attacks that alteration, inhibiting its development and progression. Although this is more frequent in adults, these mutations have now been detected in several pediatric tumors and thus, the expectation of applying personalized medicine in pediatrics is ever closer. Precision medicine poses new opportunities and challenges, bringing multiple benefits to patients and their families.
In the case of childhood cancer, the challenge is even greater and it is key to have an early and accurate diagnosis. According to a scientific article published in The Lancet, pediatric cancer is curable in most cases, with the probability of survival between 70% and 80% depending on the socioeconomic level of each country. The problem is that, globally, 50% of children with cancer are not diagnosed. Therefore, there will be 13.7 million new cases of childhood cancer worldwide between 2020 and 2050.
Pediatric cancer encompasses a large number of diseases. According to the INC (National Cancer Institute), in Argentina 1,320 new cases are diagnosed each year in children under 15 years of age. Faced with this discouraging panorama, Dr. Mercedes García Lombardi (MN 65028), head of the Oncology Unit at the Ricardo Gutiérrez Children’s Hospital, brings good news: “thanks to early diagnosis, adequate treatment and comprehensive patient care, the possibility of survival can reach 70% – 80% but as long as it is detected early.
For his part, Dr. Héctor Miranda, Medical Director of the Pharmaceuticals division at Bayer for the Southern Cone (MN 72528) maintains: “When talking about cancer, the word is always associated with prevention. While this is very important for adults, the vast majority of childhood cancers have no known cause that can be easily prevented. Therefore, it is essential that once they have been diagnosed, they receive early and prompt treatment.” In addition, he highlights that “research and development are bringing better treatments and medical products that prevent, alleviate and cure diseases; and especially in oncology, there is a wide range of innovative alternatives that continually lead us to find different ways of treating the disease. The idea is that we can find more and more mechanisms to treat cancers as effectively as possible. Therefore, where we are going is the development of new molecules that are specific for each type of tumor. With the first agnostic therapy developed specifically to act on the tumor, rather than its location in the body, it is paving the way in science for a paradigm shift in disease care.”
Fortunately, research in oncology brings us answers. Diagnostic techniques make it possible to identify specific genetic alterations in the tumor, which may be responsible for the appearance of cancer, and thus, in some cases, open the door to a personalized treatment that has been designed for that genetic alteration. But for this, a correct diagnosis is transcendental. Its identification carries with it a large number of tests to determine both the type of pathology as well as its location and its extension. This stage is vital to determine which is the most appropriate treatment for the patient.
“Although in general terms the population is not told about the warning signs, since the symptoms are common to regular illnesses (fever, bone pain and infections), it is essential that parents consult with the pediatrician when faced with a symptom that worry them and respect regular check-ups”, emphasizes Dr. García Lombardi and remarks: “nobody knows why it happens, nor do we have a way to prevent it, but we can make an early diagnosis, as early as possible, so that it is easier go through it and with fewer consequences.” In this sense, it is important that parents know that the basic pillars for the prevention of childhood cancer are essentially two: periodic medical check-ups and the construction of healthy habits.
In this regard, the specialist in pediatric oncology maintains that: “routine pediatric controls are a strongly recommended practice, although there are no specific problems to consult. The main task of the pediatrician, in addition to contributing to health education, is the prevention and early detection of symptoms, signs or any indication that suggests that it is a serious disease. Another fundamental premise in the prevention of pathology in children is that parents actively collaborate in the construction of healthy habits. Educate them from a very young age to avoid tobacco and alcohol consumption, take care of them from sun exposure, among others”.
The current philosophy is not only to treat the disease but “to do it with the minimum side effects and the best quality of life”, says Dr. García Lombardi. “We must be aware that childhood cancer is curable and ensure that children go through their childhood in the best possible way, even during treatment, maintaining schooling and their social life. Above all, we must respect their rights as children and seek a better quality of life”, closed the specialist.
Content LAB is LA NACION’s unit for generating ideas and content for brands with distribution on their digital platforms and social networks. This content was produced for an advertiser and published by the Content LAB. The writing of LA NACION was not involved in the generation of this content.