Search This Blog

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Endowment Income - What's in Store for 2010

Katie's oncologist is Dr. Julie Park. Her specialty is neuroblastoma, one of the cancers for which Katie's tumor was initially mistaken. Dr. Park is a highly respected researcher in the field. Dr. Park is our medical advisor on the Katie Gerstenberger Endowment for Solid Tumor Research.

Katie had a biopsy when she was admitted to Seattle Children's Hospital. A biopsy is a surgical procedure in which a small sample of tumor is removed for testing. The purpose is to diagnose exactly what sort of cancer the patient has, so that the treatment can be tailored to wipe it out. Katie's tumor defied pathological diagnosis. At first, it was thought to be a Wilms' Tumor. Then it was thought to be neuroblastoma. After Katie's first round of chemotherapy, Dr. Park began to suspect that it wasn't a neuroblastoma after all, but adrenocortical carcinoma (or adrenal cortical carcinoma), which is much more rare than either of the other two.

Dr. Park conferred with experts in pathology. She communicated with oncologists at St. Jude's Children's Hospital in Tennessee, where the leading research on adrenocortical carcinoma is being performed by Dr. Rodriguez-Galindo and Dr. Rubiero. They shared their protocol for treating this rare disease with Dr. Park, and she changed Katie's chemo regimen to follow the St. Jude's team's protocol. Although the most current treatment was given, and the primary tumor was removed after 5 rounds of chemotherapy, the cancer recurred within a few months (in spite of follow-on drug therapy, as well). The thinking about adrenocortical carcinoma is that it is a slow-growing cancer; this was clearly not the case for Katie! Obviously, more needs to be known about pediatric cancer, which is the main reason why Katie wanted her Endowment to fund solid tumor research. Katie's preference was that it fund adrenocortical carcinoma research, but since that is such a rare disease, her Endowment funds solid tumor research in general, which should benefit all solid tumor cures, in the long run.

Dr. Park plans to use this year's endowment distributions for travel to a conference: the international Advances in Neuroblastoma Research meeting. The meeting will take place in June, 2010 in Stockholm, Sweden. Dr. Park will participate in the exchange of information among worldwide investigators who are studying neuroblastoma biology, diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy.  Dr. Park will be able to share data with cancer investigators who are working at other institutions, and then bring what she learns back to Seattle Children's Hospital, where she will continue her research, and her work as an attending physician.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the "comments" section that follows this posting, and I will reply as soon as possible. Thank you again for your support of Katie's Endowment!