Survival rates have been steadily improving each decade, but the side effects from treatments continue to challenge children who have beaten cancer as they grow into adulthood.
Here at the Institute, we’re using the latest technologies to reduce the intensity of treatments, and thereby reducing the side effects from their medicines as well
Dr. Alfred Gillio
“Here at the Institute, we’re using the latest technologies to reduce the intensity of treatments, thereby reducing the side effects from their medicines as well,” says Dr. Alfred Gillio, co-director, Children’s Cancer Institute at Hackensack University Medical Center, who has been at the forefront of the changes in therapies since joining the medical center.
“Clinical research has allowed us to identify patient populations where we can possibly reduce those required therapies. Personalized therapy means less intensity of treatment and fewer side effects. The big push in pediatric bone marrow transplant research has allowed so many of our kids to do better in school, stay active with their peer groups, keep their energy up and just be kids,” said Gillio.
“As the only pediatric bone marrow transplant program in New Jersey, we have made great strides in transplant research. I would say 50 percent of the transplants we do are for patients that have nonmalignant diseases, hematologic diseases or immunologic diseases that can now be cured with transplants,” explained Gillio. “So we have widened the group of diseases that we transplant for as well, and that means less chemotherapy.”
Funding is the key, according to Gillio. “Increased funding would really allow us to look closer at the genome and identify some of these new cancer mutations. I believe this will lead to better cure rates and more personalized therapies that in the end will decrease the adverse effects of cancer chemotherapy and lead to a better life for these children.”