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Journal of Indian Association of Pediatric Surgeons
     Journal of Indian Association of Pediatric Surgeons
Official journal of the Indian Association of Pediatric Surgeons         
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EDITORIAL
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 187-188
 

Pediatric surgical oncology in India


Department of Pediatric Surgery, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi - 110 029, India

Date of Web Publication30-Sep-2014

Correspondence Address:
Sandeep Agarwala
Department of Pediatric Surgery, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi - 110 029
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0971-9261.141992

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How to cite this article:
Agarwala S. Pediatric surgical oncology in India . J Indian Assoc Pediatr Surg 2014;19:187-8

How to cite this URL:
Agarwala S. Pediatric surgical oncology in India . J Indian Assoc Pediatr Surg [serial online] 2014 [cited 2019 Dec 12];19:187-8. Available from: http://www.jiaps.com/text.asp?2014/19/4/187/141992


Up to the early 20 th century the only modality for the treatment of childhood solid tumors was radical resection. By 1920's, radiation therapy (RT) was added and much later, toward the mid-20 th century, single drug chemotherapy was introduced. The first being actinomycin D for Wilms' tumor. These single drug therapies were gradually replaced by multi-drug combination regimen, which demonstrated improved response rates. By the 1970's multimodal therapy including multi-drug chemotherapy, surgical resection and RT was shown to have even better cure rates in Wilms' tumor. Subsequently, similar multimodal protocols have been adopted for other tumors such as neuroblastoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, Ewing's sarcoma, malignant germ cell tumors, and other solid tumors. By 1990's, dose-intensive regime were introduced with other refinements in the dosage and the mode of administration. Simultaneous improvements in RT have led to decrease in the radiation dosage and more targeted RT thereby, decreasing the long-term morbidities. In the 21 st century, as the biologic pathways for childhood cancers became better understood, the research is mainly focused on less cytotoxic biologic therapies such as anti-angiogenesis agents, growth factor receptor inhibitors, signal transduction inhibitors, targeted antibodies and immunotherapy. With all the advances in the treatment of pediatric solid tumors, very high long-term survival of >85-90% has now been achieved. This is why the aim of treatment for childhood cancers now is "childhood cancer is curable." In this issue of The Journal of Indian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, we have chosen some review articles that highlight the success story of the multi-drug multimodal therapy as has been achieved by some of the well conducted multi-center co-operative trials like the SIOP study for Wilms' tumor and the SIOPEL studies for liver tumors. Reviews highlighting the role of neoadjuvant chemotherapy for Wilms' tumor with intravascular thrombus and malignant germ cell tumors are also included. In addition, there are some excellent original articles and case reports.

Most children dealt with in an oncologic setup, are mostly done so by the adult oncologist. The adult oncologist may be well geared for hematologic malignancies like leukemias and lymphomas in children, and rightly so as they form 50% of all pediatric malignancy load. Pediatric solid tumors are a heterogeneous group with different malignancies affecting different organs, each having its own staging system, prognostic factors and varied chemotherapy protocols. Similarly, a number of pediatric solid tumor cases are operated upon by adult surgeons who tend to extend their knowledge of adult solid tumors on to the management of pediatric tumors. Not many pediatric surgical facilities and trained pediatric surgeons and fewer pediatric oncology setups and trained pediatric oncologists, and even rarer radiotherapy setups willing to take up the challenge of RT for the pediatric patients is the reality in our country. Almost all pediatric solid tumors need adjuvant chemotherapy except rare situations like stages 1 and 2 neuroblastoma (very rare in Indian context), stage 1 endodermal sinus tumor of the testis. At the other end, there are some tumors, like adrenal carcinomas, where surgical resection is the only therapy that would result in survival and chemotherapy has very little role to play. This is why, most pediatric surgeons in India should be trained to administer chemotherapy for the solid tumors that they operate upon or else just for the want of pediatric oncologists the overall treatment of the children with solid tumors will remain incomplete. Most solid tumor protocols are easy to follow and have minimal side effects and complications if one follows the general guidelines of dilution, rate of administration of fluids and the interval of administration. The surgeon, on his part, can't alter the tumor biology but can ensure gross complete removal, avoid upstaging the tumors by avoiding spill and incomplete resections, avoid the unnecessary resection of contiguous organs and help appropriately staging the tumor. This will in turn ensure appropriate therapy so as to give the maximum benefit to the patient with minimum morbidity. For doing a proper job, the pediatric surgeon should have knowledge about the natural history, biology and behavior of the tumor, knowledge about diagnostic procedures and staging. He should also have the knowledge of proper tissue handling of the biopsy or resected specimens so as not to ensure proper pathological and molecular studies.

It is unfortunate the few tertiary care centers in our country that have both pediatric oncology and pediatric surgery have still not got together to manage the patient in a multidisciplinary team approach. Multi-disciplinary approach is a must and consultation upfront, among the pediatric surgeons, pediatric oncologists and radiation oncologists can easily draw a road map for the treatment of every individual child with a specific malignancy. Surgeons should restrain their urge to resect every mass that they come across as an initial treatment. This results in failed resections, unnecessary resections of adjoining organs and tumor spill with subsequent upstaging of the disease. There is a very clear understanding now that for most pediatric solid tumors, neoadjuvant chemotherapy (preoperative chemotherapy) has a definite advantage in decreasing the risk of major resections. It must be realized that now the cure rates in pediatric solid tumors are very high, and any complication may decrease the subsequent quality-of-life for the patient for the next 50-60 years.

There are cost constraints in our country, and so it is a must to optimize investigations so that diagnosis can be reached expeditiously, and treatment started. Doing all investigations for various prognostic factors is ideal, but does not always help in the management of an individual patient. One must segregate essential investigations from ones that are investigative or helpful in prognostication or just making the data look good. Issues about cost, distances, availability of services (example radiotherapy), social ethos, inputs by general practitioners and pediatricians and the public at large must be considered.

Improved long-term cure rates bring up the issue of long-term complications like second malignancies, infertility, delayed growth and development, cardiomyopathy, disfigurement, etc. Because of the growing numbers of long-term survivors it is now important to focus on the social issues like insurance for these survivors of cancer, employability and marriage. These issues can only be addressed by making multidisciplinary teams that work in conjunction with social organizations and NGO's to help develop survival groups for these survivors of childhood cancer. These social organizations can also help in establishing more centers, increasing awareness about childhood cancer and that they are curable, procure funds for treatment, help in the schooling and college education of these children and some of the other social issues mentioned earlier.

Further, there is hardly any data available for the treatment and the outcomes of pediatric solid tumors from our country. Even though, many centers have treated a large number of patients, there is an extreme paucity of data. Through this issue, we would also like to urge centers to maintain good data, analyze them, present and publish these. That is the only way forward to understand the disease behavior in our country and modify protocols available from the developed world; to obtain best possible results in the resource-challenged setting. Availability of such single center outcome results will enable and encourage us to establish multi center trials, especially designed for our country that will keep in mind the various constraints.

 
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