An expert on pediatric oncology explained developments in childhood cancer care over the past several decades at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar’s (WCM-Q) Grand Rounds. Dr Roger Berkow, Professor and Vice Chair of Pediatrics at the University of South Alabama (USA), explained how the treatment of childhood cancer had been dramatically improved by advances in drug therapies over the years, as well as discussing challenges to further progress.
Dr Berkow, who gave the lecture during a visit to WCM-Q as part of the college’s Visiting Professorship Programme (VPP), said:
The cure rate over the last 50 years has improved to approximately 80 percent overall from 10 to 20 percent back in the old days, so there has been a dramatic improvement. But 20 percent of kids with cancer still die of their disease so progress has to continue.’
Dr Berkow pointed out that survival rates for childhood cancers increased rapidly from 1975 to 1995, but that progress then slowed. He said that barriers to progress include funding for childhood cancer research lagging far behind that for adult cancer in the United States, poor understanding in medical science of the causes of childhood cancer, and the difficulty and time needed to develop new drugs, which often takes 15 years from inception to approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The Visiting Professorship Programme is a WCM-Q initiative that brings leading figures in medical education and healthcare to the college to view its state-of-the-art facilities and affiliated teaching hospitals, offer advice on career development to students and establish strong links between WCM-Q and other elite medical institutions. During his visit, Dr Berkow, who is the Pediatric Residency Programme Director in the University of South Alabama, met with students to share his insights into applying to residency programmes and answer their questions about the process. He also met with the clinical faculty in Hamad Medical Corporation and Sidra Medicine and had medical education and clinical discussions.
Gaining a place on a highly regarded residency programme at an elite institution to continue their medical training after graduation is a high priority for medical students, explained Dr Amal Khidir, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Pediatric Clerkship at WCM-Q:
It is very important for their future career development that medical students are offered more opportunities to interact with well-established educators and clinicians. We were extremely privileged and pleased to be able to welcome a programme director of Dr Berkow’s calibre here to WCM-Q to not only give our students some extremely helpful advice but also to deliver an extremely enlightening and informative lecture on pediatric oncology at Grand Rounds.’
The lecture was accredited locally by the Qatar Council for Healthcare Practitioners-Accreditation Department (QCHP-AD) and internationally by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).