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March 6, 1991

Childhood Cancers Gradually Yielding to Advances in Diagnosis, Therapy, Knowledge of Origin

JAMA. 1991;265(9):1070-1071. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460090018006

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A FREQUENTLY cited example of the success of modern medicine is the improvement in survival of children with acute lymphocytic leukemia, from 4% in the early 1960s to more than 70% in the 1980s. Although not as dramatic, the prognosis of many other types of childhood cancers has also improved. The 5-year survival rate for osteosarcoma, for example, has gone from less than 20% to more than 50% during the same time interval.

At the recent American Academy of Pediatrics annual meeting in Boston, Mass, a national symposium on bone and soft-tissue sarcomas, supported by Ronald McDonald Charities, reviewed recent advances in diagnosis and treatment. These advances are being applied to other malignant conditions as well.

About 320 cases of bone tumors occur each year in the United States in children who are younger than 15 years, with osteosarcoma and Ewing's sarcoma being the most common. Slightly more cases of