Letter From the Editors

Luckily, cancer in the pediatric population is a relatively rare phenomenon as compared to the much more common malignancies of middle and older age. In addition, for a variety of reasons, most of these malignancies tend to be more manageable, and the overall cure rate of pediatric cancer now approaches 80 percent. Of course, this still constitutes immense tragedy for those in the unfortunate 20 percent and their families.

The rising survival rate of pediatric cancer patients and their young age has also made issues of survivorship a major concern. What are the long-term consequences of having had cancer at such young ages, and what are the future risks for medical problems stemming from their treatments or the consequences of the disease?

In this issue of our Newsletter, we highlight one of the true pioneers in this field, Dr. Anna Meadows of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who was an early investigator in these very issues. Indeed, she ultimately became the initial director of the Office of Cancer Survivorship at the National Cancer Institute.

Anna is best known for her work on the occurrence of second malignancies – it is well known that survivors of one cancer are at significantly elevated risk of developing a second malignancy. She devoted much of her research career to elucidating the frequency and patterns of how this occurred. When she began her work in the 1970s and early 80s, two or more cancers would occur in the same individual perhaps five percent of the time. Over the ensuing 40 years, changes in the survival rate for initial cancers, the aging of the population, and the increased use of scans and screening have led to an increased diagnosis of second malignancies in survivors. Today the occurrence of two or more malignancies in a given individual occurs in closer to 20 percent of cancer survivors.

Dr. Meadows and her team have addressed ways to reduce these risks, through interventions such as tobacco cessation, weight loss or increased surveillance. Her contributions in this area have been profound and it remains a major area of ongoing research interest.

The Editors

Andrew J. Dannenberg, MD
Henry R. Erle, MD-Roberts Family Professor of Medicine
Weill Cornell Medical College
Associate Director for Cancer Prevention
Meyer Cancer Center
Co-Director, Cancer Prevention Program
NewYork-Presbyterian Cancer Centers

Alfred I. Neugut, MD, PhD
Myron M. Studner Professor of Cancer Research
Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology
Associate Director for Population Sciences
Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Mailman School of Public Health
Co-Director, Cancer Prevention Program
NewYork-Presbyterian Cancer Centers