During his 30-year career as a pediatric oncologist, Ron Neuberg, M.D., has seen significant advances in cancer treatment for children. “We have seen the overall survival rate go from about 50 percent to 83 percent,” said Neuberg.
“It is a parent’s worst nightmare to learn that their child has cancer,” said Neuberg. “Childhood cancer differs from adult cancer. A lot of important work in chemotherapy was done in children and we now are working on treatments based on the biology of a particular patient’s cells. A cancer such as neuroblastoma can be extremely curable or very difficult, based on an individual’s cells.”
“What is interesting now is that a lot of clinical trials are looking at having improved therapies come to fruition based on the biology of tumor cells,” said Neuberg. “Our Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center is a member of the Children’s Oncology Group, the world’s largest clinical research organization for childhood cancers. This allows us access to the most current treatment protocols and we work with experts from around the world to select the best course of treatment.”
The Children’s Oncology Group has done biology studies on the differences between tumor cells and healthy cells and has banked tumor cells for research.
Neuberg is excited about what is on the horizon. “Treatment can be more targeted to the tumor cells. In the past, cancer treatment could be compared to a nuclear warhead. Today, some of the treatments are designed to be smart bombs, to precisely treat the cancer cells, with less impact on healthy cells. Hopefully the future will bring many more of these more specific and less toxic treatments,” said Neuberg.
September also is Childhood Sickle Cell Awareness month. In South Carolina, one in 325 African-American babies has sickle cell disease. Sickle cell disease is characterized by anemia, severe pain, and potentially life-threatening complications such as acute chest syndrome, stroke and chronic organ damage.
“We treat 500 children with sickle cell disease at Children’s Hospital,” said pediatric hematologist/oncologist Carla Roberts, M.D. “We are offering a medication called hydroxyurea, which decreases the complications of the disease, helping the children to live longer, healthier lives.” In observance of Childhood Cancer and Sickle Cell Awareness Month, Roberts encourages people to donate blood.
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About Palmetto Health Palmetto Health Children's Hospital
Palmetto Health Children's Hospital was South Carolina’s first children's hospital and treats more than 80,000 children each year. It has central South Carolina's only Children’s Emergency Center and offers more than 30 subspecialties to meet the unique healthcare needs of children. With more than 200 professionals that work exclusively with children, Palmetto Health Children's Hospital has a team of highly skilled and trained experts unmatched by any hospital in the Midlands. Palmetto Health Children's Hospital is the place to go for children's medical care, because the best care matters.