$1 million donation allows Genetic Predisposition Testing for Childhood Cancer at Westmead

30 May 2023 | Expected time to read: 3 minutes

Lily's family with KCC and SCHF staff

Imagine a world in which every child is free of cancer. A world where kids can just be kids. 

Every year, the Cancer Centre for Children at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead cares for around 200 newly diagnosed children and adolescents with cancer. The goal for the incredible team of specialists is that one day this number becomes zero and no child develops cancer.    

Their world-class team of specialists are major contributors to the global childhood cancer community. The work they have done has dramatically changed the lives of kids around the world and now they are fighting for the best care for a sick child today, and better health for all children tomorrow. 

“Treating these children and young people is complex and requires an enormous team effort. The community are an invaluable part of this team, helping to provide the extra support we need to purchase the latest equipment, fund vital research and improve treatments so each of our patients has the best outcome possible ,” Dr Luciano Dalla-Pozza, Director of the Cancer Centre for Children at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, said. 

Philanthropy plays a big role in this and thanks to the incredibly generous support of long-term donor Kids with Cancer Foundation, kids and their families will continue to have access to the very best treatments and services. 

Kids with Cancer Foundation has committed $1 million to Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation to fund a genetic predisposition service for patients and families of the Cancer Centre for Children at The Children’s Hospital Westmead. 

The service, which will be known as the Kids with Cancer Foundation Cancer Genetic Risk Program, will offer genetic testing and counselling to children, adolescents and their families who have increased risk of underlying cancer predisposition. 

This genetic information will help clinicians to identify children who have a greater risk of further cancer development, potentially adapt treatment protocols to minimise the risk of future cancers and monitor patients with specific surveillance programs. The program will also give families invaluable information to assist with family planning. 

“Information about the genetic makeup of a child’s cancer is invaluable in predicting how the cancer is likely to behave and in developing the best possible treatment programs,” Dr Luciano Dalla-Pozza, Director of the Cancer Centre for Children at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, said. 

“By examining the child’s underlying genetic risk, we can get a far greater understanding of a child’s future risk of cancer and put measures in place to minimise or eliminate that risk, which could be a gamechanger for some of the families we see.”’ 

Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation CEO, Kristina Keneally, said: “Everyday healthcare professionals and researchers are changing the landscape of paediatric care, with the impact being felt across treatment rooms, outreach programs and beyond.  

This incredible philanthropic gift marks over $18 million in lifetime giving from the Kids with Cancer Foundation – an amazing contribution that has helped hundreds of children undergoing cancer treatment for more than 25 years. 

We are so thankful to the Kids with Cancer Foundation for helping us equip healthcare experts with the funding to support them in delivering extraordinary care and creating innovative solutions to some of the most challenging conditions affecting children and young people today.” 

Kids with Cancer Foundation’s $1 million funding will support the Kids with Cancer Foundation Cancer Genetic Risk Program for the next three years.  

Kids with Cancer Foundation CEO, Todd Prees said: “For 25 years Kids with Cancer has been committed to making today easier for kids with cancer and their families – and we are honoured to be able to fund the continuation of this genetic predisposition service which will provide genetic information to families which could truly be lifesaving.” 

Lily and her family

The program will help children like 14-month-old Lily, who was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma, an early childhood cancer of the eye, late last year.  

Since her diagnosis, Lily has undergone genetic testing to determine if her cancer was caused by the same genetic mutation as her dad, Scott, who was also diagnosed with Retinoblastoma when he was Lily’s age. The results will help inform Lily’s ongoing treatment and management, while also giving her family valuable information to help with future family planning. 

Lily’s family sees the benefit of the Kids with Cancer Foundation Cancer Genetic Risk Program for their own, as well as other families, facing cancer diagnoses.  

“A program like this can help families like ours make informed decisions when there has been history of cancer. I hope it helps identify those at greater risk and allows for early intervention to reduce the prevalence of this horrible disease,” Lily’s mum, Lauren said.  

Dr Dalla-Pozza said: “We are incredibly grateful to the Kids with Cancer Foundation for supporting this important program and helping us continue striving towards changing the outcomes for children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer.” 

The program is building on the success of the PREDICT Study, funded by Luminesce Alliance. Since it launched in March 2021, genetic testing has been offered to more than 200 children and their parents. 

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