Recent reports have found that up to 33% of pediatric cancer patients meet criteria for a cancer predisposition syndrome (Knapke S, Pediatr Blood Cancer 2012). In addition, there is growing recognition that birth defects confer an increased risk of pediatric malignancy, particularly for children with congenital central nervous system anomalies. Thus, our research looking for germline variation contributing to pediatric tumorigenesis would add to the growing list of pediatric cancer predisposition states. The genetic defects in these cases typically affect pathways critical for normal development and growth, suggesting that pediatric cancers, unlike adult cancers, are the result of defects in normal developmental mechanisms.
Against this context, Dr. Druley, in partnership with the pediatric genetics faculty, has established the Pediatric Cancer Predisposition Clinic at St. Louis Children’s Hospital (http://www.stlouischildrens.org/our-services/cancer-predisposition-program). This translational program seeks to improve our understanding and care for children with a host of cancer predisposition syndromes by facilitating clinical and genomic research.