“Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer that has been increasing in incidence in adults over the past 40 years. Although pediatric melanoma is rare (5-6 children per million), most studies indicate that incidence has been increasing. In a new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers found that the incidence of pediatric melanoma in the United States actually has decreased from 2004-2010.
“Laura B. Campbell, MD, and colleagues from Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center in Cleveland, used data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results cancer registries, which represent approximately 28% of the US population, to identify new cases of pediatric melanoma from 2000-2010. According to Dr. Campbell, “We took an in-depth look at whether or not the number of new cases of melanoma per year in children and adolescents was increasing in the recent decade.” They also studied how rates changed over time according to age, sex, type of melanoma, and its location on the body.
“A total of 1,185 new cases of pediatric melanoma were identified. Overall, the number of new cases each year decreased by 12% per year from 2004-2010. For boys, there was a decrease of almost 7% each year (2000-2010); in 15-19-year-olds, there was a decrease of 11% each year (2003-2010). Additionally, new cases of pediatric melanoma located on the trunk and upper extremities, as well as cases with good prognostic indicators, both decreased significantly each year.”
Editor’s note: In a recent study, scientists compared two different post-remission treatments for children and adolescents with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who had only a small number of cancerous cells left in the body (minimal residual disease, MRD) after initial treatment (remission induction therapy). The scientists found that patients who received an augmented post-remission treatment, compared to the standard one, experienced better outcomes. However, these patients also had worse side effects. Ongoing clinical trials will reveal more about improved post-remission treatment and reduction of side effects.
“Children and adolescents with acute lymphoblastic leukemia who had minimal residual disease at the end of remission induction therapy demonstrated improved outcomes with augmented post-remission therapy compared with standard treatment, according to study results.
“However, patients who received augmented therapy experienced higher rates of adverse events, results showed.”
“The FDA today granted breakthrough therapy designation for CTL019, an investigational personalized immunotherapy, for the treatment of relapsed and refractory adult and pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia, according to a press release issued by Penn Medicine.
“CTL019 (Novartis), developed by the University of Pennsylvania, is the first personalized cellular therapy for the treatment of cancer to receive this classification.
“In early-stage clinical trials conducted at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 89% of patients with ALL who were not responding to conventional therapies achieved complete remission after treatment with CTL019.
“ ‘Our early findings reveal tremendous promise for a desperate group of patients, many of whom have been able to return to their normal lives at school and work after receiving this new, personalized immunotherapy,’ Carl H. June, MD, director of translational research in the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. ‘Receiving the FDA’s Breakthrough Designation is an essential step in our work with Novartis to expand this therapy to patients across the world who desperately need new options to help them fight this disease.’ ”
Editor’s note: This story describes a new leukemia treatment called CTL019, which boosts a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. CTL019 treatment is personalized for each patient, since it involves altering a patient’s immune system cells to attack tumor cells. It has been tested in volunteer patients in clinical trials, and has shown promising results for adults and children with relapsed or refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now granted breakthrough therapy designation for CTL019, meaning that review and approval will be accelerated so that the drug can more quickly reach patients outside of clinical trials.