Childhood Cancers and Systems Medicine

Document Type


Publication Date



Despite major advances in treatment, pediatric cancers in the 5-16 age group remain the most common cause of disease death, and one out of eight children with cancer will not survive. Among children that do survive, some 60% suffer from late effects such as cancer recurrence and increased risk of obesity. This paper will provide a broad overview of pediatric oncology in the context of systems medicine. Systems medicine utilizes an integrative approach that relies on patient information gained from omics technology. A major goal of a systems medicine is to provide personalized medicine that optimizes positive outcomes while minimizing deleterious short and long-term sideeffects. There is an ever increasing development of effective cancer drugs, but a major challenge lies in picking the most effective drug for a particular patient. As detailed below, high-throughput omics technology holds the promise of solving this problem. Omics includes genomics, epigenomics, and proteomics. System medicine integrates omics information and provides detailed insights into disease mechanisms which can then inform the optimal treatment strategy.