The National Cancer Institute (NCI) announced on April 5, 1999, that it had awarded funds for a Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium, a network of medical centers that will evaluate promising treatments for children with brain malignancies. The consortium is intended to speed the development of innovative, technically challenging therapies.
While approximately 60 percent of children with brain tumors survive at least five years from the time of diagnosis, this figure has improved only slightly in the past 25 years. However, new treatment possibilities are emerging (see the related National Cancer Institute news release).
Evaluation of innovative drugs and technologies is difficult for a single institution. "No one children's cancer center sees enough children with brain tumors to conduct timely clinical studies," said Malcolm Smith, M.D., in NCI's Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program. "The consortium, by involving a number of institutions in joint studies, will be able to evaluate new treatment strategies for children with brain tumors as quickly as can be safely done."
Treatments that appear effective in these initial studies can then move on to larger, definitive trials, such as those conducted through NCI's Clinical Trials Cooperative Groups. These networks of large institutions, community hospitals, and physicians conduct trials throughout the country.
For information about this and other relevant efforts, see the NCI Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program's Web page, Childhood Cancer Resources.
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