Winston-Salem - Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center pediatric oncologist and hematologist Sharon Castellino, M.D., has received a $98,742 one-year grant from the St. Baldrick's Foundation to continue her research on childhood cancer and the effects of cancer treatment on childhood cancer survivors.
Castellino told News 2 Wednesday this grant is one of several grants she has received from the St. Baldrick's Foundation and will be used specifically to study the heart to look at the cardiovascualar and neurological function of childhood cancer survivors. She said she has received almost a million dollars in grants to conduct research of childhood cancer.
The St. Baldrick's Foundation is a volunteer-driven and donor-centered charity that raises money for childhood cancer research and has given out, since 2005, more than $125 million to support this research. It is the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants and says it allocates the grants to both cancer research experts and young, up and coming professionals. In this summer's grant cycle, it has pledged to fund a total of more than $22 million.
Castellino said she had to apply for her most recent St. Baldrick's Foundation grant and was notified about a month ago that she had been chosen to receive it. She said she will begin work using this grant in September once she completes projects funded by other grants. Castellino works at the Brenner Children's Hospital and will continue her research there.
The St. Baldrick's Foundation said there has been great progress made in treatments for many types of cancers that plague adults, but not the same amount of progress in children's cancer treatments. St. Baldrick's CEO Kathleen Ruddy said, "These grants are one step toward filling the critical gap that exists between the research dollars spent per child with cancer and those spent per adult."
Castellino's receiving of her grant comes coincidentally at a time in which a panel of experts advising the National Cancer Institute proposed changing the definition of cancer--even eliminating the word "cancer" from some diagnoses.
The panel said in its recommendations that eliminating the word from diagnoses that are not actually cancerous could reduce patient fear and deter them from seeking treatments they do not need. For example, the panel said some lesions can grow so slowly that they do not need to be removed. But, other doctors have said redefining cancer is not worth the risk, because sometimes doctors cannot tell with certainty which cancers will not progress and which ones will kill patients if left untreated. Those recommendations could take years before they go into effect, if at all.