The St. Jude researchers base their prediction on their review of the current and evolving state of ALL diagnosis and treatment. ALL is a cancer in which an excess number of immature and non-functional white blood cells overwhelm the body's ability to make normal blood cells in the bone marrow. It is the most common type of cancer in children, with about 3,000 new cases each year in the United States alone. The survival has rate increased from 4 percent--when St. Jude opened in 1962--to 80 percent today, following the development of protocol-based treatment at St. Jude that combined different anti-ALL drugs and revolutionized the treatment of ALL.
"The substantial progress in ALL treatment being made today at St. Jude and other institutions reflects not only a more effective use of combining traditional anti-leukemic drugs, but also significant breakthroughs in genetic studies of ALL patients," said Ching-Hon Pui, M.D., director of the St. Jude Leukemia Lymphoma division and the F.M. Kirby Clinical Research Professor for the American Cancer Society.
A key advantage to the genetic approach to ALL treatment is the increasing ability of physicians to identify which gene mutations are linked to increased or decreased responsiveness to anti-leukemic drugs. This information is helping researchers to identify children who have particularly drug-resistant forms of ALL, as well as patients who are more susceptible to the toxicities of specific treatments. The new approach is also guiding development of new drugs that target specif
Contact: Bonnie Cameron
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital