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Pediatric Oncology: Working Towards Better Treatment through Evidence-Based Research

Pediatric Oncology: Working Towards Better Treatment through Evidence-Based Research

Pediatric oncology is working towards better treatment. The most significant credit goes to the time and resources used to research the cancer-related ailments that affect children. Survival rates for pediatric cancer patients have increased, and their survival has triggered the need for more treatment methods and studies on the effects of cancer therapy. Research centers such as John Hopkins University have been on the front line in elaborating various ways of saving lives from the cancer menace. Another crucial institution for curing and fighting childhood cancer is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which conducts different clinical trials and offers intense care for patients. Blood disorders and cancer have become rampant among children worldwide, and specialists in the medical department are to make sure that they give the right treatment and care to decrease mortality rates. Globally, there are unmeasurable efforts by the pathology departments, orthopedics, and therapeutic radiologists to secure that blood disorders and cancer in people under 18 years are neutralized. Through the research, it has been found that more than a hundred and seventy thousand children are diagnosed with cancer, and 96,000 kids succumb to different types of cancer. In developed countries, the mortality rate is low, accounting for less than 20%, whereas, in less developed states, the mortality rate of children who suffer from cancer-related diseases is more than 80%. Therefore, evidence-based research in pediatric oncology enhances the technology that aids in solving problems of diagnosing cancer in children.

Significance of the Evidence-Based Research

Nevertheless, there is a need for more extensive evidence-based research on childhood cancer; the main goal is saving lives. The types of cancer that are most common in the young ones are leukemia, which is the most rampant kind, then it is followed by brain tumors, as well as lymphomas, which are the least common. In the United States, 5 out of 100,000 children are diagnosed with leukemia before age 20. One out of those five kids dies from leukemia. Juniors between the ages of 1 and 4 were observed to have new cancer cases, whereas juveniles between the ages of 10 and 14 recorded the highest number of pediatric cancer deaths. Besides, there are other less common types of childhood cancer, such as retinoblastoma, Wilms’ tumor that affects the kidney, osteosarcoma, which affects the bones, and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which affects the blood.

Nevertheless, positive outcomes will be produced when more evidence-based research is undertaken on childhood cancer. The strides made by the research programs cannot distract from the fact that over 10,000 children in the United States 15 will be diagnosed with cancer this year. However, the significance of the research has been a reliable pillar in overcoming the cancer problem.

Literature Review

One of the evidence-based researches was conducted in 2014 when the experts investigated evidence-based recommendations regarding fertility preservation options and treatment procedures for adolescents diagnosed with cancer. The researchers noted that the long-term effects were not considered when chemotherapy was introduced to fight cancer cells. Moreover, it was proved that cancer therapies have negative sustainable implications on other body organs and adverse influence on the reproductive system. When chemotherapy was discovered to have saved many lives, the attention was diverted to the fact that it could cause more harm than good. That is why Alison and her team decided to elaborate on better ways to provide safer chemotherapy for teenagers. Family members have reported that patients that had cancer in their childhood are infertile in their old age. This is because when the gonads are exposed to radiation emitted during chemotherapy, the reproductive system becomes affected, thus leading to infertility. However, a big challenge is faced by the specialist when giving fertility preservation counseling to adolescents with cancer and determining the ones at risk of losing their fertility because of age, sex and available resources for treatment.

Prevention of Infertility among Cancer Teenagers Undergoing Chemotherapy

Alison and the team of researchers started their research with the stage of question development, where they reviewed the systematic procedures used during chemotherapy so that they would note down the loopholes where radiation can reach the reproductive organs. The scholars proceeded with the literature search, and they resorted to 1108 articles, but only 258 of them were relevant to the topic of pediatric cancer. Of the 258 relevant articles, 30 discussed fertility preservation in females, whereas 23 dealt with fertility preservation in males during chemotherapy. When the evidence was reviewed, it was observed that a few procedures are safe for female teenagers during chemotherapy. One of the methods is known as oophoropexy, a surgical procedure of relocating the ovaries of the female patient to safer areas of the reproductive organs to avoid any contact with the radiation. Besides, the two journals utilized in the research stated that out of 11 women who underwent oophoropexy after pelvic radiation, 14 pregnancies were reported. Ovarian tissue cryopreservation is another beneficial and safe method for girls in their pre-puberty stage. It entails removing the part or the entire ovarian tissue and preserving it in a special way for future use. In the case of male children who have not reached puberty, the research advocates for cryopreservation; hence, the services of a sperm bank are highly recommended to prevent infertility.

Integration of Psychological Care in the Treatment of Pediatric Oncology

Anne Kazak and Robert Noll from the University of Pittsburgh undertook a study in 2015 on how to improve the care for children with cancer and their families. Thus, this research aimed to integrate psychology with pediatric oncology after it was realized that childhood cancer patients faced severe trauma and became aggressive during treatment and the healing process generally. Kazak and Noll suggested seven contributions that psychologists can make to help cancer patients at a young age cope with the stigma that they encounter in their life since they have it in mind that they are not like the rest. When children with cancer got psychological counseling, they developed better than those who did not get counseling regarding personal relations.

Helping Cancer Patients to Cope with Pain through the Use of a Mobile Application

In 2014, Ellen Henderson and her colleague Passchier conducted thorough research on the kind of pain adolescents with cancer undergo after they finish the therapies. The two researchers wanted to devise a phone application that could predict the pain the cancer patients experienced and send signals for the patient to receive help immediately. Due to the comprehensive literature review and complex algorithm development, the two scholars applied the centered approach. The results showed that the pain management device was suitable for 7 out of 10 teenage cancer patients because of the different themes that the application had.


The evidence-based research done by specialists is quite considerate, and it is clear that cancer treatment imposes another burden, which is a follow-up of the side effects of the therapy. Cancer among children demands extra care since those youngsters need a favorable environment to feel loved and additional care during the therapies since those radiations have side effects on the heart and other organs, particularly the reproductive system. Therefore, evidence-based research seems to be well-balanced, and all the studies aim to reduce mortality rates.

Significant programs have been launched occasionally to help scholars get the correct information when answering their research questions. Good libraries and exemplary laboratories have been a pillar to the positive findings of many researchers who dared to reveal gaps in pediatric oncology. Some of the results obtained by different investigators have been considered during the treatment and care of patients with childhood cancer, whereas other discoveries are still under scrutiny so that the health board in charge of the young ones can approve them. Evidence-based research findings have improved the conditions of children with cancer by lowering the infertility risk during chemotherapy sessions.

Practice Implications

One of the implications of the research programs involved reaching a deeper understanding of how gene expression can serve as a critical factor in cancer development among children. The study of genes in kids with cancer is an issue in determining the type of drugs prescribed for treating these youngsters with cancer. The gene known as LIN28B was a major cause of cancer among children. Carpenter and Lo also identified that the gene contributed to the development of liver tumors in adolescents under the age of 16 years. When the gene LIN28B is produced exceedingly, it leads to hepatoblastoma, and the only way to stop the gene from spreading and multiplying is by blocking it. When the researchers discovered such news, they were confident to assert that liver cancer in children can be cured using methods other than chemotherapy.

Additionally, the research increases the safety of bone-marrow transplants. Numerous lives could have been saved due to the bone-marrow transplant. The latter is necessary to restore the blood-forming capacity of cancer children who have undergone cancer treatment, namely chemotherapy. Nevertheless, this type of transplant is not very safe for patients, as some develop complications, sometimes resulting in death. Evidence-based research has aided in identifying the best microenvironment for the cells that form blood during the transplant. Hence, Kasow and Stinson helped determine the environment for the cells responsible for blood formation. Moreover, they contributed to classifying the cells and establishing their growth factors. Consequently, such discoveries have decreased the number of deaths during bone marrow transplantation, and new therapeutic methods are being considered.

The elaboration of better control mechanisms of metabolism is another significant study point. Since cancer is the growth of malignant cells, there is a dire need to find ways to reduce the factors that lead to the abnormal development of cells. In the past, a type of glucose in medical institutions known as FDG-PET was used to identify lung cancer cells. The character of sugar uptake of lung cancer cells was the main reason for the utilization of this type of glucose. Through research, it was disclosed that the glucose used to identify lung cancer cells is responsible for their increased growth. The successful research led to the application of an alternative method, which implies the employment of magnetic resonance technology intended to monitor the behavior of tumors before a cancer patient undergoes surgery. Therefore, evidence-based research has promoted improved diagnosis and therapy for children with cancer, eventually resulting in fewer deaths among cancer patients.

Summary and Conclusion

Childhood cancer takes many lives every year, and researchers have to conduct tests to reduce the death rates. Therefore, evidence-based research programs need to be implemented in pediatric oncology to decrease youngsters’ mortality and mitigate the after-effects of cancer therapy. Moreover, the evidence-based research undertaken by various people has proved beneficial due to providing recommendations on preventing tampering with teenagers’ fertility and using psychology in cancer treatment to overcome stigmatization in cancer patients. Nevertheless, studies and investigations should be funded better to produce more effective outcomes in the fight against cancer. More research centers like John Hopkins University should be established for pediatric oncology research-related activities so that children can lead healthy lives even after being cured of cancer. The disease has put plenty of people to death; thus, it is high time that researchers burnt the midnight oil to find solutions that will enhance the neutralization of the effects of cancer on children.

📎 References:

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3. Carpenter, R. L., & Lo, H. W. (2014). STAT3 target genes relevant to human cancers. Cancers, 6(2), 97-925. https://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers6020897
4. El-Fattah, M. (2017). Survival pattern of chronic myeloid leukemia in a pediatric population in the United States. Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, 39(2), 159-160. https://dx.doi.org/10.1097/mph.0000000000000693
5. Fernbach, A., Lockart, B., Armus, C. L., Bashore, L. M., Levine, J., … Rodgers, C.(2014). Evidence-based recommendations for fertility preservation options for inclusion in treatment protocols for pediatric and adolescent patients diagnosed with cancer. Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, 31(4), 211-222. https://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1043454214532025
6. Jibb, L. A., Stevens, B. J., Nathan, P. C., Seto, E., Cafazzo, J. A., & Stinson, J. N. (2014). A smartphone-based pain management app for adolescents with cancer: Establishing system requirements and a pain care algorithm based on literature review, interviews, and consensus. JMIR Research Protocols, 3(1), e15. https://dx.doi.org/10.2196/resprot.3041
7. Kasow, K. A., & Stinson, P. (2017). Ensuring donor safety in the operating room during a bone marrow harvest. Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, 23(3), S421-S422. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbmt.2016.12.511