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$50 million initiative increases access to trials for pediatric blood cancer

Posted at 4:26 PM, Sep 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-23 18:26:53-04

BOISE — The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society located in Boise is in the middle of year one out of five of their new 'Children's Initiative,' which brings clinical trials right to local hospitals.

“Instead of a patent having to go to a specific university hospital, in a specific state to be enrolled in a trial, which may be the best possible way for them to be treated for their disease, we have the treatments coming to them," said Boise area director Lauren Olsen.

They’ve connected with 200 different sites across the country, and connect patients living in rural areas with masters-level oncology nurses to help pinpoint which trial is best suited for each childhood diagnosis.

"Research with blood cancers is becoming the basis for all cancers," said Olsen.

Childhood survival rates for blood cancers, like Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, have improved significantly, but research is still necessary to improve long-term care.

“There hasn’t been a new childhood cancer treatment in many years, and there are actually only four that have been developed over the past 40 years that are made just for children," said Olsen.

Beyond those four treatments, children sometimes receive adult treatments just in a smaller dose, which isn’t always the safest option.

“Children aren’t tiny grown-ups, they’re still developing they’re still growing and right now 80% of all children who survive cancer have adverse long-term side effects that are just from the treatments themselves," said Olsen.

Side effects include hearing loss or joint damage. The hope is by making trials more readily available, FDA approval can be more feasible down the road.

Coming up Thursday, October third, the fundraiser ‘light the night’ is coming to Cecil D. Andrus Park. It helps pay for the children's initiative and patient medical bills. You can reach out directly to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for more information on clinical trials.