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Genetic Information Helps Target Childhood Cancer – Dr. Erin Lampson on the Evolving Landscape of Pediatric Oncology

September 18, 2019

As part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September, Erin Lampson, M.D., pediatric hematologist and oncologist at Texas Oncology–Medical City Dallas Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, discusses her passion for pediatric oncology and advancements in the treatment of younger patients.

Why did you pursue a career in pediatric oncology?

In medical school, my younger brother was diagnosed and treated for Hodgkin lymphoma. Being on the patient care side of treatment gave me a different perspective – and respect for – the role of the oncologist. I became an oncologist to help patients and their families through this difficult time, using personal experience. Every day I come to the clinic, I’m inspired by working with the bravest children and families.

How has the treatment of pediatric hematology changed over the course of your career?

Childhood cancer is unique because it’s typically not related to lifestyle or environmental risk factors. Recently, there has been a greater focus on characterizing genetic mutations seen in pediatric cancers, allowing us to tailor individualized, targeted therapies for patients. There has also been great progress in immunotherapy, which uses the body’s own immune system to eliminate cancer cells. And, we continue to focus on minimizing the long-term effects of pediatric cancer treatment as children become young adults.

How have clinical trials and other advancements impacted the treatment of pediatric cancer?

Clinical trials for the treatment of pediatric cancer are organized into a centralized research organization called the Children’s Oncology Group, or COG. COG designs protocols for the unique needs of children with cancer. Participating COG institutions across the country, like Texas Oncology, treat patients using similar protocols and use the research data to make great strides in therapy. Due to major advancements in treatment over the past several decades, more than 80 percent of children diagnosed with cancer will live five years or more.

Is there anything you would like patients and their families to know during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?

Taking care of children with cancer is a team effort. Our clinic relies heavily on experienced nurses, educators, child life specialists, specialized pharmacists, dieticians, therapists, and social workers to provide the best treatment for our children with cancer. We also rely on community involvement from great organizations. To get involved, contact the Texas Oncology Foundation for more information.

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