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Dec 2, 2013 10:57 AM by Elizabeth Hill

Advances made in fight against childhood cancer

A little over two years ago, Olivia Latiolais, now eight-years-old, was diagnosed with a form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL.

"She in the toughest little girl I know, she has not once said why is this happening to me," says father Chad Latiolais.

"Nobody expects it when you walk into a hospital you're going to get that diagnosis," says mom Ashley.

Despite a few complications early on, Olivia is now in the maintenance phase of treatment and expected to make a full recovery.

"Over the past 50 years we've taken something that was lethal and really life threatening to something that is now chronic, but curable," says pediatric oncologist at Women's and Children's Hospital Dr. Ammar Morad.

Since children with cancer typically have otherwise healthy bodies, doctors are able to use higher doses of chemotherapy and utilize more clinical trials.

"If we don't use clinical trials, if we don't use the best treatment that is available, when you're dealing with a rare disease you'll never be able to advance the field."

While the field has advanced, there are still several forms of childhood cancer that average a much lower cure rate.

"I think we should not be oblivious to the fact that there is still a lot of work to be done to build on what's been a successful story."

Childhood cancer is still considered relatively rare. Dr. Morad says that for every 100 adults with cancer there is one child. He says some of the most deadly forms of childhood cancer are brain tumors and bone cancer.

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