Pediatric Cancer Program
- Packard is renowned both nationally and internationally for the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, sarcomas, leukemias, and brain tumors.
- Our physicians hold leadership roles in the national clinical research consortium Children's Oncology Group (COG). This group, representing the merger of four national pediatric cancer research groups, designs and evaluates cancer therapies through large clinical trials.
- Packard also conducts a number of trials of experimental drugs that can offer new treatment options for patients who have failed other therapies.
Leukemia, the most common childhood cancer, is a cancer of the blood-forming cells found in the bone marrow. It accounts for about one third of all malignancies in children under the age of 15. Leukemias are divided into categories based on the type of cell that has become cancerous; it's important to know what type of leukemia a patient has to determine the best course of treatment. Packard researchers are leaders in the development of DNA testing, a technique that provides unambiguous identification of a patient's leukemia and allows physicians to select the most appropriate course of treatment.
Approximately 80 percent of childhood leukemias are acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a disease that is highly treatable.More than 95 percent of children with ALL obtain remission with initial chemotherapy and 70 percent are cured after a two to three year treatment. Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) accounts for nearly all the remaining cases of childhood leukemias. Although AML is more problematic to treat, the cure rate for AML is improving.
In addition to treating children with leukemia, researchers at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital are investigating the cellular and genetic basis of leukemia so they can learn the fundamental cause of this and other diseases. One promising research effort targets a recently identified gene that enables cancer calls to become resistant to a variety of chemotherapy drugs — a major obstacle in raising cure rates for leukemia. Our researchers are experimenting with different therapies in an attempt to overcome drug resistance.
Lymphomas are cancers of the cells in the lymphoid tissue, including the lymph nodes and spleen. They are classified into two main types, Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Together, Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas account for about 10 percent of all childhood cancers.
In the 1970s, Stanford pioneered the combination of chemotherapy and low-dose radiation that has dramatically increased the survival of children with Hodgkin's disease. Our physicians run a Hodgkin's treatment program that continues to be regarded as one of the best in the country.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is the more common form of the disease in children. Recent treatment advances have dramatically improved the prognosis for children with non-Hodgkin's disease, and now most children with non-Hodgkin's disease can be cured. Our physicians continue to be leaders in the development of new therapies which improve outcomes and quality of life for children with cancer.
Cancers in the brain and other parts of the nervous system are the most common solid tumors found in children.
Our physicians work closely with specialists in neurology and neurological surgery, bringing together experts in cancer, neurology, radiation oncology, neurosurgery, neuro-imaging, rehabilitation and many others.
We are also exploring chemotherapies - chemical treatments to kill cancer cells - to treat brain tumor recurrence, as well as novel treatments such as radiosurgery - a technique for performing neurosurgery without incisions.
Neuroblastoma is a cancerous tumor that starts in nerve tissue in the neck, chest, abdomen, or pelvis. Two out of three children with neuroblastoma are diagnosed when they are younger than five years old. In some cases, doctors can detect neuroblastoma before birth with fetal ultrasound.
Our team of physicians works together to determine the best treatment options based on several criteria, including the child's age at diagnosis and the location and kind of tumor. Treatment options include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant.
Sarcomas of Bone and Soft Tissue
Sarcomas are relatively rare cancers that involve bone and soft tissues. Rhabdomyosarcoma, a tumor originating in muscle, is a special area of expertise for our physicians. They are exploring new therapeutic approaches for the treatment of high and low risk patients and conducting research into the biology of the disease.
Our pediatric oncologists and radiotherapists are also widely recognized for the management of bone tumors such as Ewing sarcoma and osteosarcoma, which can require very specialized treatment. Our cancer experts work closely with our orthopedic specialists in treating these children.
Click here for additional information on common childhood cancers.