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Families FAQs

Want to find out more
about Zero Childhood Cancer?

What is the Zero Childhood Cancer Program?

Zero Childhood Cancer is the largest single initiative ever undertaken for children with cancer in Australia. A truly ground-breaking program led by Children’s Cancer Institute and Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, that brings together all major Australian clinical and research groups working in childhood cancer to offer Australia’s first ever personalised medicine program for children with high-risk or relapsed cancer. By the end of 2023, our aim is that all children diagnosed with cancer in Australia have access to ZERO, irrespective of their disease profile (cancer type, risk type, stage).

What is personalised medicine?

Personalised medicine is tailor-made treatment, customised to each individual patient. For example two children who have the ‘same’ kind of cancer and who show the same symptoms, may respond very differently to the same anti-cancer drugs.

One size doesn’t fit all. The goal of Zero Childhood Cancer is to treat each child’s cancer in the most targeted way possible, to improve survival, reduce side effects, and aim for a cure for every child.

How does it work?

Scientists analyse cancer cells taken from each child and attempt to identify their cancer’s molecular and genetic features. Where possible we screen the cells against hundreds of drugs to find which ones are most likely to kill the cancer. We grow the cells in our laboratory models of disease to provide further evidence that these drugs are likely to be effective at treating the child’s cancer. All this information is used by the doctors to make to make decisions about the best treatment.

Who can enrol in the Zero Childhood Cancer Program?

Currently the Program is available to infants, children and young adults with the highest-risk cancers, those with a less than 30% chance of survival. These children include those suffering from high-risk or relapsed cancer, childhood brain tumours, sarcomas, infant leukaemias and neuroblastomas. Participation in the trial is only possible through the child’s paediatric oncologist. 

The trial is free to all children who meet enrolment criteria and is being sponsored by the Australian and New Zealand Haematology and Oncology Group (ANZCHOG). 

Program eligibility will be expanded over the coming three years to eventually include all children diagnosed with cancer in Australia.

If you want to find out more about enrolment, please visit our Families FAQs section here or speak to your treating oncologist.

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