Medical Minute: Kids With Cancer

No one wants to hear the word cancer from a doctor, especially if it's your child. Many children have surgery, chemotherapy or transplants. If that doesn't work, there's not a lot more doctors can do, but a new drug may give some of these kids a chance to survive.

Five-year-old James is a big football fan. His favorite part of the game?

"You gotta make a touchdown."

James even has his own touchdown dance, but life has not been an easy score for him. Two and a half years ago, James was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, cancer of the nervous system. Since then, he's had surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and a bone marrow transplant, but the cancer came back.

"The very fact is we don't have a very good treatment for neuroblastoma, and certainly, we don't have any good treatments to offer if they relapse after several trials of medications," says Dr. Cameron Tebbi.

Pediatric oncologist Cameron Tebbi says children like James usually have just months to live, but a new drug could change that. Fenretinide is a vitamin A-like compound that kills cancer cells. In early studies, some children with neuroblastoma went into remission after taking the drug.

"Those results are encouraging to use the treatment for children who have failed other therapies."

James takes 22 of these large pills each day, quite a challenge, but one that's paying off.

"We just keep praying every day that this is gonna work. So far, we think it is."

Though it's still early, the treatment seems to be working, and everyone is hoping this will end with a win for James.

For more information, contact:

Kristin Howells
Media Relations Coordinator
St. Joseph's-Baptist Health Care
(813) 554-8216
Kristin.Howells@baycare.org

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