Cancer Rates Fall in Richer Nations, Rise in Poorer Ones

A Young Cancer Patient's Idea For a Front-Yard Lemonade Stand Turned Into a Foundation Dedicated To Funding Childhood Cancer Research

Issue 27 Summer/Fall 2016

Alexandra Scott with a pitcher of lemonade

While recovering in the hospital following a stem cell transplant, 4 year old Alexandra "Alex" Scott told her mother: "When I get out of the hospital, I want to hold a lemonade stand."

Alex began her battle with neuroblastoma, a type of childhood cancer that arises in the immature nerve cells of the body, before her first birthday. Treatment after treatment failed to force her cancer into remission. However, the stem cell transplant left her feeling better than she had before. Alex said she wanted to give money to doctors to allow them to "help other kids, just like they helped me."

True to her word, Alex held her first lemonade stand later that year and raised $2,000. While bravely battling her own cancer, Alex and her family held front yard lemonade stands and donated all the funds raised to childhood cancer research. News spread of the amazing little girl raising money for cancer prevention and cures. Supporters around the world began holding front yard lemonade stands and donating the money to Alex and her cause.

In August 2004, Alex passed away at the age of 8, knowing that she had helped raise $1 million to help fight the disease that took her life.

Now, 12 years later, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) has raised over $120 million, funding over 550 childhood cancer research projects.

ALSF combines grassroots support from lemonade stands and volunteerorganized events with support from donors, corporate sponsors and special events to fund cutting-edge, innovative scientific research to find safer treatments, preventive therapies and cures for all types of childhood cancer.

The leading cause of death by disease

In the United States, childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 15.

Every day, approximately 250 kids around the world die from cancer, accounting for over 90,000 deaths to the disease every year. There are over a dozen different types of childhood cancer and countless subtypes.

Despite these facts, childhood cancer research is vastly and consistently underfunded.

Childhood cancer is a tricky cancer to prevent. Unlike adult cancers, which can often be acquired from a variety of environmental and lifestyle factors, the causes of childhood cancers are often unknown. Toxic treatments are often the only tools that doctors have for patients battling childhood cancer. Typical interventions, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, can have harsh side effects in adults; in children, their side effects can be devastating, leading to long term developmental delays, disability, chronic health conditions, secondary cancers, and death.

ALSF is working towards changing these facts through the funding of innovative research into treatment, prevention of recurrent disease, minimizing long-term side effects and ultimately, finding cures.

Breakthroughs in prevention

Research funded by ALSF has led to the use of genetic testing as a powerful tool in the prevention of childhood cancer. Funded by ALSF, researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia discovered that the drug crizotinib, which was approved in 2011 to treat ALK gene-positive lung cancer in adults, could also help children with ALK-positive cancers like lymphoma and neuroblastoma. Crizotinib inhibits the ALK gene, stopping it from fueling cancer growth.

In the clinical trial, seven out of eight children battling relapsed non- Hodgkins lymphoma were cured of their disease. Crizotinib is targeted therapy; as a result it has fewer effects on healthy tissue. Unlike traditional intravenous chemotherapy, crizotinib is a pill and has minimal toxicities associated with it. Within days of taking the pill, children had reduced fevers, chills and pains.

Genetic testing of children battling cancer continues to offer the promise of more targeted therapies for relapse prevention and cures.

More breakthroughs, one research grant at a time

ALSF has three core program areas:

Early Career Research - aimed at attracting the best and brightest researchers into a career dedicated to childhood cancer research.

Accelerator Program - funding innovative proposals to help accelerate the pace of discoveries that will lead to cures.

Quality of Life and Care - empowering nurse researchers and psychologists to improve care and better understand the psychosocial aspects of childhood cancer.

Throughout the year, our Scientific Review Board and Nursing Review Board evaluate grant proposals for projects that find cutting-edge treatments, help unlock the mystery of childhood cancer, improve the quality of life of children battling cancer and ultimately find cures for all types of childhood cancer. ALSF-funded research grants work - the proof is in the amazing, lifesaving breakthroughs for children battling cancer.

The ALSF approach bridges unmet funding gaps in childhood cancer research, while empowering each one of us to make a difference in the fight against childhood cancer.

Everyone can get involved. Read more about ALSF’s innovative research, breakthroughs and how to host your own lemonade stand: www.Alexs Lemonade.org.