Dr Appel on the Significance of International Childhood Cancer Day

Burton Eliot Appel, MD, associate director, Children’s Cancer Institute, associate professor, Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, Hackensack University Medical Center, discusses the importance of International Childhood Cancer Day in pediatric patients with cancer.

Appel begins by emphasizing that a team of professionals works tirelessly to care for children in the community who are battling cancer. Despite the overall positive prognosis for many childhood cancers, continuous research and fundraising endeavors are essential to optimize outcomes and minimize the disruption caused by treatment, Appel states.

Although survival rates for childhood cancers have improved significantly over the years, there is still considerable room for advancement, Appel continues. One common misconception is that because some childhood cancers, such as leukemia, are highly curable, they should not require as much research focus, he says. However, the impact of cancer and its treatment can have lasting effects on a child’s physical health, emotional well-being, and social development, Appel explains.

Parents of childhood cancer survivors can attest to the challenges their children face long after the treatment ends, including potential long-term adverse effects and emotional struggle, he adds. The focus of future research should therefore not only be on increasing survival rates but also on developing therapeutic approaches that minimize long-term effects while still enhancing the overall quality of life for survivors, Appel emphasizes, noting that this includes efforts to enhance psychosocial support services, reduce treatment-related complications, and support survivors in their transition to life after cancer.

Overall, the aim of International Childhood Cancer Day is to raise awareness and advocate for continued research in and support for pediatric oncology care, Appel states. These efforts allow the cancer community to ensure that pediatric patients receive the comprehensive care and support they need for a brighter future, he concludes.