Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital have launched a landmark online study, called “The Reasons Why Us,” to investigate the environmental and associated genetic risk factors for pediatric cancer. This epidemiological study is being conducted in partnership with The Oliver Foundation in Florida, which so far has engaged nearly 400 families who have been affected by pediatric cancer and want to participate in the research.
Baylor’s research comes amid a recognized but, as yet, unexplained increase in the incidence of pediatric cancer in the U.S. A steady 1 percent per year increase in the number of pediatric cancer cases has led to an overall 48 percent increase in cases since 1975, according to the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program. Around 16,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed in children and teenagers annually.
“By launching this web-based study, we hope to obtain significant data from a large number of families on a shorter timeline, which will be critical to identifying associations,” said Dr. Michael Scheurer, a molecular epidemiologist at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and co-director of the Center for Epidemiology and Population Health at Baylor. “We hope this will lead to implementation of measures to limit exposures, increase public safety and prevent the cancers occurring in the first place. We need to widen society’s focus on detection, diagnosis and treatment to assertively embrace prevention.”
The study will ask parents to answer questions concerning diet, neonatal exposures, medications, infections, and sports and leisure activities. Once the data is collected, Scheurer’s epidemiology team at Baylor will assess exposures to key environmental toxicants. This will involve multiple datasets including air and water studies, exposure to pollution and analyses of baby teeth for the presence of these chemicals early in life.
Click here to access the Baylor news release for more information about this study.