MEMPHIS, Tenn., Sept. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Survival rates overall for childhood cancer are almost 80 percent—a marked advance against a disease that was curable in only a small fraction of children 50 years ago. However, despite progress, pediatric cancer remains the leading cause of death due to disease among U.S. children older than 1 year of age.
While September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month nationwide, at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the fight against this disease is a year-round mission. Doctors and scientists work together not only to improve survival rates for childhood cancer, but to develop better, safer therapies to treat the disease.
"Two major efforts define our mission. One of those is to provide the best care today for every child who comes to St. Jude," said Dr. William E. Evans, St. Jude director and CEO. "The other is to conduct research that makes treatments better tomorrow."
For its efforts, St. Jude was named the nation's top children's cancer hospital in 2010–11, receiving the best overall score summarizing quality of care in a survey from U.S. News & World Report. That ranking was based on the hospital's performance in three areas: reputation; medical outcomes such as cancer survival; and care-related indicators of quality such as the number of patients, nursing staff and other factors.
Employing a bench-to-bedside approach—one of the hospital's founding concepts—basic scientists and physicians work in tandem to translate laboratory discoveries into cures.
This pairing has notably helped St. Jude investigators improve survival rates for the most common childhood cancer—acute lymphoblastic leukemia—from 4 percent when the hospital opened, to 94 percent today.
The bench-to-bedside approach recently helped St. Jude investigators dramatically advance the survival rate for pediatric acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the white bloo