June 1st 2007
Over the past 50 years, great strides have been made in diagnosis, treatment, and survival of childhood cancer. In the 1960s the probability of survival for a child with cancer was less than 25%, whereas today it may exceed 80%. This dramatic change has occurred through significant and steady progress in our understanding of tumor biology, creation of specialized multidisciplinary care teams, incremental improvements in therapy, establishment of specialized centers with research infrastructure to conduct pivotal clinical studies, and the evolution of a cooperative group mechanism for clinical research. Most children with cancer in the United States, Europe, and Japan receive appropriate diagnosis and treatment, although access is limited in developing countries. The price of success, however, is the growing population of survivors who require medical and psychosocial follow-up and treatment for the late effects of therapy. Here we review the progress made in pediatric oncology over the past 3 decades and consider the new challenges that face us today.