Cancer is the number one disease related killer of children under the age of 19 in the United States Many research projects, however, do not include young children, especially when looking at cancer treatments. There are ethical guidelines of course but also concerns that young children cannot adequately communicate symptoms, side effects, and other information that drug trial participants usually have to report. The numbers are sobering. Of the approximately 12,000 children diagnosed with a life-threatening or terminal form of cancer, 25% will die from the disease. Research is critical, and there has to be a way to include those most affected, children, into the process.
A new study with patients from 8 to 18 years of age at hospitals in Seattle, Philadelphia, and Boston showed that even the youngest patients could communicate effectively in safety and efficacy trials into treatments for the cancers they have. The ability of these brave youngsters to report symptoms, side effects and quality of life issues will be vital information in research studies. This kind of information can make a huge difference in the efforts to develop better treatments for these patients