Childhood cancer was almost always fatal before 1970. Today, 80% of children diagnosed with cancer will survive at least 5 years; 70% will be cured. However, cancer continues to be the leading cause of nonaccident-related deaths in children. More children die each year from cancer than from cystic fibrosis, diabetes, asthma, AIDS, and congenital abnormalities combined. Nine children die from cancer every school day.

Despite the fact that pediatric cancers account for only a small percentage of the total cancer burden, more effective therapies are needed to improve mortality rates in children. Therefore, our research priority must be the development of new agents and new therapies for childhood cancer.

MD Anderson Cancer Center has been caring for children with cancer since its doors opened over 60 years ago. This institution has been home to several research and clinical pioneers whose innovative work has influenced and shaped the practice of pediatric oncology throughout the world. Notably, Drs. Wataru W. Sutow, Donald Pinkel, and Norman Jaffe have been credited with introducing curative therapies for children with leukemia and solid tumors.

Cancer treatment involves far more than administering chemotherapy and surgically excising tumors. It requires a multidisciplinary approach to patient management, particularly in the treatment of solid tumors, which pose the biggest challenge in cancer care today. Surgery and radiotherapy as well as radiographic and pathologic assessments of response are critical factors in the treatment of children with cancer.

This monograph describes the MD Anderson approach to treating children with a variety of malignancies. The book is organized by tumor types, and it is written by the clinicians who make up our multidisciplinary care teams. The book also includes sections on new therapeutic agents being used at our institution, supportive-care and behavioral medicine techniques, and our unique program for managing adolescent and young adult cancer patients.

Extensive experience and unique clinical perspectives are of limited value unless they are shared. We envision this book as an educational resource and a reference guide for clinicians challenged to choose optimal care plans for their patients with childhood malignancies. This monograph has been prepared with careful thought and great pride.

Eugenie S. Kleinerman, M.D.

© 2005 Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. All rights reserved. ISBN: 0-387-24470-0.