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SIOP 2023 brings together pediatric cancer specialists

Over 2,500 pediatric cancer specialists from around the world gather at the annual SIOP Congress. Pediatric oncologists, nurses and researchers from the Princess Máxima Center are also traveling to Canada's Ottawa for SIOP 2023.

At the SIOP conference, attending specialists share the latest developments within pediatric oncology and collaboration partners come together. This is important because pediatric cancer is rare and, moreover, knowledge exchange and collaboration are crucial to achieve better cures and quality of life for children with cancer.

Main research questions of the moment

One of the visiting pediatric oncologists and research group leader at the Máxima Center is Prof. Dr. Hans Merks. He is a specialist in treatment of and research into soft tissue and bone sarcomas in children. 'Collaboration within SIOP is crucial in our profession. In Ottowa, for example, I discuss with my colleagues what the most important research questions are at the moment. In the clinic as well as in the translation from the lab to the bedside. We also build international networks to answer these questions together in the most efficient way possible in order to further improve the cure rate with optimal quality of life'.

In addition, Merks, as chairman of the European padiatric Soft tissue sarcoma Study Group (EpSSG), is organizing a debate session on the treatment of rhabdomyosarcomas. These are the most common soft tissue sarcomas in children. 'Together with other specialists, we will discuss the similarities and differences between European and North American treatment protocols. In this way we want to give everyone insight into why we do what we do, where differences lie and what we can learn from those differences.'

Sharing knowledge as a frontrunner

Prof. Dr. Martha Grootenhuis is also present in Ottawa. She focuses at the Máxima with her research group on the topic of quality of life. She is founder, and was chair for a long time, of the SIOP psycho-oncology committee. Grootenhuis: 'The goal of SIOP is similar to the mission of the Máxima, survival and quality of life are central. I was asked to share my years of experience implementing PROMs questionnaires, or Patient Reported Outcomes Measures, in clinical practice during one of the plenary sessions. From Máxima we are leading the way worldwide with the implementation of KLIK. It makes me proud to share our knowledge and new developments with colleagues.'

Developments in care

Care for children with cancer is a specialization within nursing. From the Máxima, research and developments in care will be presented on the basis of nine posters. In addition, Rosanne Been, pediatric oncology nurse, PhD student and clinical epidemiologist, will give a presentation for all participating nurses. She will present about her research on nausea and nausea-related symptoms in children with cancer'.

Been: 'Our study shows that nausea is still a major problem in children with cancer. That is why it is important to pay attention to this. With my presentation, I hope to put this topic on the map with fellow nurses and other healthcare professionals from the rest of the world. I am curious whether these colleagues recognize that many children suffer from nausea, despite the medication they receive against it.

Schweisguth Prize

Traditionally, prizes are also awarded during SIOP, including the prestigious Schweisguth Prize. This year, physician-researcher and PhD student Eline Bertrums from the Máxima Center wins this prize. She receives the prize for her research on the role chemotherapy plays in the development of therapy-related acute myeloid leukemia (t-AML) after treatment of blood cancer or a solid tumor. This knowledge may contribute in the future to the further development of personalized treatment of children with cancer and the follow-up of children who are cured through the LATER clinic.

'Winning the Schweisguth Prize 2023 is a great honor,' says Bertrums. 'It is a fantastic opportunity to present the results of our study to a large audience. I conducted this research together with Jurrian de Kanter from the van Boxtel group, and in collaboration with the international BFM AML study group. This award and the associated presentation also provide new opportunities for further expanding international collaborations and children's participation in the study.

Seven Young Investigator Awards

In addition to Bertrums, seven Máxima researchers will receive the Young Investigator Award during the SIOP: Kirsten Thus (pediatrician and pediatric oncologist in training), Nora Looze ( semi-physician and researcher in the Molenaar Group), Mala Joosten (Grootenhuis Group), Hinke van der Hoek (Grootenhuis Group), Yuehan Wang (Kremer Group), Zeinab van Gestel-Fadaie (Tytgat Group) and Sebastian Bon (Grootenhuis Group).

Clinical Trial Award

It was also announced during SIOP that Kirsten Thus won the Clinical Trial Award. The IVIG sub-study, which Thus analyzed and presented and was designed and conducted by researchers and specialists at Máxima, was part of the ALL-11 protocol study. 'In this study, we investigated whether fewer infections would occur in children in the medium risk group when they receive immunoglobulin by infusion (IVIG) every three weeks. During treatment for ALL, the child's immunoglobulin levels drop, which worsens the immune system and increases the risk of infections. The study found that children who had received IVIG were indeed less likely to have been admitted for fever, 206 admissions as opposed to 271 in the control group.'

Schweisguth Prize and Young Investigator Award winners