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Optimizing Cancer Management in A-T

October 2013 - The A-T Children’s Project hosted a small, two-day workshop in Boston, Massachusetts entitled “Optimizing Cancer Management in A-T.” Clinical oncologists and immunologists from around the world gathered to discuss what is known, and what needs to be learned, about caring for patients with
A-T who develop cancer.

About 25 percent of children with A-T develop cancers, especially leukemias and lymphomas. In addition, they are unusually sensitive to radiation, making it necessary to modify cancer treatment protocols involving radiation therapy and drugs that mimic radiation to prevent dangerous consequences.

Unfortunately, cancer and complications from cancer treatments contribute significantly to deaths in A-T. We were therefore eager to bring together experts in both pediatric and adult cancers, including oncologists who have never seen a patient with A-T as well as oncologists familiar with A-T, to discuss how better to manage cancers in the context of this disorder.

Led by workshop chairs John "Torrey" Sandlund, M.D. from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Douglas Weckstein, M.D. from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, an international group of physicians discussed the types of cancers seen in patients with A-T; the advantages and disadvantages of aggressive versus less aggressive treatment protocols; supportive care and adverse reactions to chemotherapy; the challenges associated with establishing new treatment protocols and clinical trials for cancer and A-T; and new directions for research.

As a result of this workshop, the meeting attendees will prepare a “state-of-the-art paper” for publication in a medical journal summarizing what is currently known about managing cancer in A-T patients, the critical gaps in our knowledge, and recommendations for closing these gaps. The A-T Children’s Project will also explore the possibility of establishing an international clinical registry for cancer cases in A-T so that clinicians can better collect, monitor and utilize information regarding the cancers that develop in association with this disease.

We thank our donors for making this workshop a reality. Your generosity is helping us optimize the care of individuals with A-T all around the world so that they can live longer, healthier lives.


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