Ask any leader or expert in the field of pediatric neuro-oncology, and they’ll tell you that we are currently amidst the most exciting time in the history of pediatric brain tumor research and drug discovery.[1] Yet, according to the CDC, pediatric brain tumors are the leading cause of cancer-related death among children and young adults under age 19. Over the past decades, little progress has been made in the treatment of pediatric brain tumors, while tremendous advances have been made across the rest of the pediatric cancer spectrum, as new discoveries in the lab have led to new treatments in the field that have significantly improved survival.[2]

For example, the most common form of childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, was generally diagnosed as fatal 50 years ago; today, cure rates for the disease reach close to ninety percent.

However, for the 4,600 children diagnosed annually with a brain tumor, the scientific needle has barely moved, with only 25% of children suffering from a malignant brain tumor surviving five years – rates that trend on par with where they were nearly forty years ago[3].

But, never before in the history of mankind’s battle with cancer has so much progress been made. Critical findings in recent years have positioned the field of pediatric brain tumors to enter a new era in treatment and survival. Among the most transformational of these findings was clear evidence that pediatric high-grade gliomas are biologically and molecularly distinct and separate from their adult counter-parts. These findings allow scientists to break from the norm of the past decades, and catalyze them to develop pediatric-specific treatments that finally move us away from using adult therapies on children, a strategy that simply has not worked.[4]

Thanks to the incredible support of so many affiliated with IFF, Ian’s Friends Foundation is continuing their support of many exciting research initiatives in unique areas.  While the news from the CDC is sobering, there is much hope for children with pediatric brain tumors. IFF is fueled by this hope and understands it is a powerful weapon, among our many arsenal of tools, to find new treatments and one day, a cure.

[1]FROM THE CEO’S DESK: PEDIATRIC BRAIN TUMORS – CIRCLING THE SQUARE, By David F. Arons, JD, CEO, National Brain Tumor Society, Blog published September 30, 2016

[2] Fri Sep 16, 2016 Reuters HEALTHNEWS: “Brain cancer now deadliest for U.S. children: Study”, By David Beasley | REUTERS ATLANTA

[3] Fri Sep 16, 2016 Reuters HEALTHNEWS: “Brain cancer now deadliest for U.S. children: Study”, By David Beasley | REUTERS ATLANTA

[4] www.nationalbraintumorsociety.com, Advance Research, Pediatric Initiatives