(Photo from UMMC Children's Hospital website)

Children’s diagnoses and treats between 60 and 80 children with newly diagnosed cancer per year.

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is coming to a close but the fight against pediatric cancer will continue at Children’s of Mississippi. 

Dr. Anderson Collier serves as the Director of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s of Mississippi and is the chair of the Pullen Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. Dr. Collier said advancements are being made in the area of cancer treatment and research at Children’s of Mississippi. 

“Experts at Children’s of Mississippi diagnose and treat between 60 to 80 children with newly diagnosed cancer per year,” said Dr. Collier. 

Childhood cancer survival rates in Mississippi have increased over the years, according to Dr. Collier. 

“Our survival numbers are the same or better than those reported for the United States. Because we are an active member of the Children’s Oncology Group, our survival rates have increased with the rest of the country,” Dr. Collier went on to say. 

Membership in the Children’s Oncology Group includes access to research. Clinical trials are just one of the many avenues of advancing children’s cancer treatment and research, and there are currently more than 70 clinical trials ongoing at Children’s of Mississippi. 

“Essentially, all the institutions in the United States that treat childhood cancer are members of Children’s Oncology Group (COG), which is the only National Cancer Institute-sponsored cooperative group that studies childhood cancer,” Dr. Collier said. “The COG conducts numerous clinical trials on childhood cancer ranging from epidemiology studies, biology studies and treatment trials from the earliest stages of drug development to phase 3 clinical trials.” 

Children’s of Mississippi has been part of COG since the beginning, and research is shared throughout the medical community. This is paving the way for new, less intensive treatments for childhood cancers and increasing survivorship. From the 1950s to now, childhood cancer survival rates have increased from 20% to 80%. 

“Despite this miracle of modern medicine, we continue to conduct trials that are decreasing the intensity of therapy for some diseases, adding new medications to some diseases, and incorporating immunologic therapy and targeted drugs for other diseases,” said Dr. Collier.  “Results of multi-institutional, cooperative group clinical trials has been the path forward and will continue to be the path forward. No single institution will ever be able to advance childhood cancer therapy significantly. It takes all of the institutions working together.”

This means that if a child in Mississippi is diagnosed with cancer, they have access to treatment right here at home, potentially with input from experts all over the county. 

“The care and treatment that you will receive at Children’s of Mississippi through the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders is the same as you will receive at essentially every other childhood cancer center in the country,” said Dr. Collier. “We deliver state-of-the-art, evidence-based therapy right here in Mississippi. Our team of doctors, nurses, social workers, child life specialists, and schoolteachers all have different roles with the same goal: to treat our patients with the best therapy and support the patient and the families through likely the worst time of their life.”