DEVELOPMENT OF curative therapies for many childhood cancers is a true success story of pediatrics. For example, acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children was practically incurable in 1950; now, 70% to 80% of the cases of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia are cured. Similar or even better cure rates are seen with Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and Wilms' tumor. Encouraging increases in relapse-free survival rates also are observed in children with neuroblastoma and rhabdomyosarcoma. These remarkable statistics are a testimonial to the thoughtful, innovative, and sequential treatment protocols developed by large single institutions and by multi-institutional national cooperative clinical research groups such as the Children's Cancer Group and the Pediatric Oncology Group.
Within the last decade, elegant studies have elucidated the molecular biological bases for the development of several pediatric neoplastic diseases and the putative mechanisms for predisposition to cancer in children with certain immunologic, hematologic, or genetic syndromes such as
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