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Approaching Pediatric Cancers through a Global Lens

, by Tom Gross

We have posted many blogs, generally, on the topics of cancer control and prevention enhancement, cancer research facilitation, and building capacity in low- and middle-income countries.  It’s quite easy to see how pediatric cancers can get lost in the mix.  My background in pediatric cancers has inspired me to act as an advocate, representing the many children facing cancer, through my work with partners to promote cancer control worldwide.  

During my recent trip to Toronto, Canada in late October, I met with several colleagues from UICC, Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey; University of Toronto; SickKids Hospital of Toronto, Boston Children’s Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Center during the International Consensus Meeting: Guidelines for Pediatric Cancer Staging.  During this meeting, one topic of focus was the importance of population-based registries for pediatric cancers.  Since the incidence of pediatric cancer is relatively constant worldwide, strengthening population-based registries to collect data on the extent of disease at diagnosis would be helpful in determining if late diagnosis may explain difference in outcome globally. Discussions were held on the importance of establishing an appropriate and reliable staging system that could withstand the numerous challenges presented when working on a global level.  One of the many impressive outcomes from this meeting included the development of key guidelines, formed by consensus, for the uniform, global reporting of staging for pediatric cancers.  These guidelines take into account limited accessibility to high-precision technologies used for disease staging in low- and middle-income countries.  This knowledge reiterates the need for valuable measures of success in cancer control that can be met through sustainable pediatric cancer registries that deliver quality data across the globe.  

I was pleased to be surrounded by such talented experts from all over the world at the International Consensus Meeting: Guidelines for Pediatric Cancer Staging.  Notably, there was representation from Latin America, North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, Australia and Asia, in the fields of pediatric oncology, cancer epidemiology, and cancer registry, each weighing in on these critical topics.  It was clear the need to strengthen pediatric cancer control efforts resonates loudly in the hearts and minds of scientists worldwide.