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Texas Children’s physicians promote global childhood cancer education

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This blog is co-authored by Dr. Jeremy Slone and Dr. Mark Zobeck.

Each year in the United States, almost 16,000 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer and around 2,000 will die from their disease. Thanks to advances in treatment, more than 80 percent of children in our country survive cancer. However, if the child is not in a high-resource country, like the U.S., their chances of survival plummet to as low as 10 percent in many countries. Despite medical advances, where a child is born remains the most important factor that determines whether she lives or dies from her cancer.

Most children around the world are not dying because we do not know the best treatment regimens for pediatric cancer. Rather, resources necessary to deliver treatment are lacking in many places, including funding, equipment, medications and skilled personnel such as nurses, doctors and pharmacists.

Dr. Jeremy Slone, a pediatric hematologist-oncologist at Texas Children’s Hospital and I have been working with several colleagues at the International Society of Pediatric Oncology (SIOP) to promote pediatric hematology-oncology training of health care workers in resource-limited countries. We recently launched the Pediatric Oncology International Network for Training and Education (POINTE) which contains a database of pediatric cancer-related training programs from across the world, a list of pediatric cancer-focused professionals (physicians, pharmacists, nurses, etc.) available for international consultation, and educational resources for health care workers, parents and patients. POINTE’s goal is to serve as a central and comprehensive reference for health care workers from resource-limited settings to explore training opportunities and materials. One example of a program that one can learn about on POINTE is a new pediatric cancer training program in Uganda in partnership with Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers. POINTE hopes to connect people and opportunities together to create a global network focused on training individuals to care for children with cancer.

The POINTE website was recently launched at the 2016 SIOP annual congress in Dublin, Ireland, to an enthusiastic reception. Projects like POINTE move us toward a day when geography does not determine if a child lives or dies from cancer.

Contact us:
Twitter: @CancerPOINTE
LinkedIn: Search Pediatric Oncology International Network for Training and Education

Dr. Mark Zobeck, third year resident