Audio Interview

Pediatric cancer testing

Published on April 14, 2020   31 min

Other Talks in the Playlist: Research and Clinical Interviews

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Interviewer: Hello Professor Schiffman, thank you very much for sparing the time to do this interview with us today, it's very much appreciated. We will be talking about pediatric cancer predisposition and what we need to move the field forward. To start with, what are some of the main problems in the field of pediatric cancer predisposition? Prof. Schiffman: Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. Let's take a step back before we get to there being problems and discuss a little bit of the background in terms of where cancer comes from in general, because that will inform the discussion of what we need to move the field forward. One of the things we know about cancer is that every time a cell divides there's an opportunity for that cell to turn into cancer. Many recent studies have shown that in the normal healthy population, as we age there's an accumulation of mutations in the cells in our body. Of course that makes sense, the longer you live the longer your stem cells have been around to divide and produce daughter cells, and the more opportunities they've had to accumulate mutations. Most of the time those clonal mutations are not pathogenic, so they don't lead to cancer, they're sort of passengers but just stochastically every once in a while they are going to turn into cancer, and that's why we see that as we age cancer increases, so typically cancer is thought of as a disease of aging. Other work including some recent studies by Tomasetti and Vogelstein have shown that the more often a stem cell divides, the more susceptible that organ is to developing cancer. That's all well and good, but what does that have to do with pediatric (childhood) cancer? We know that there's actually an increase in childhood cancer when people are born,