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Podcast: What is Childhood Cancer, and How Do We Treat It?


Dr. Jamie Renbarger

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and in our latest podcast, Indiana University School of Medicine’s Dr. Aaron E. Carroll, professor of pediatrics and associate dean for research mentoring, is talking about the difference between how cancers behave in children and adults and how that informs treatment approaches.

In this month’s episode, Carroll interviews Dr. Jamie L. Renbarger, an associate professor of pediatrics and a pediatric hematologist/oncologist at IU School of Medicine whose research focuses on childhood sarcoma. Renbarger also leads the childhood sarcoma research team as part of the IU Precision Health Initiative, which aims to cure and prevent diseases prevalent in Indiana by studying all the factors—such as genetics and lifestyle—that influence a person’s health.

According to Renbarger, cancer generally is a catch-all term for the growth of a population of “bad,” or abnormal, cells.

“The problem with this group of bad cells is that they grow out of control,” Renbarger said. “Frankly, your body is producing abnormal cells all the time. And your immune system is really trained to get rid of those. [But] for some reason, in some people, this bad population of cells is not picked up by the immune system and so then is allowed to grow unchecked.”

And while cancers in adults—particularly older adults—typically grow slowly and develop over time as the result of a lifetime of exposures, childhood cancer grows much faster and therefore typically require that doctors work more quickly to find a treatment that works.

Listen to the podcast to find out more about childhood cancer and how precision health research and more targeted therapies provide hope for the future of cancer treatment and quality of life for survivors.

The Healthcare Triage podcast is sponsored by IU School of Medicine and IU’s Precision Health Grand Challenge to raise awareness about the diseases in scope for the Precision Health Initiative and IU’s leadership in these areas.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

Andrea Zeek

Assistant Director of Research Communications

Andrea works closely with IU School of Medicine researchers, the Executive Associate Dean for Research Affairs, and her colleagues in the Office of Strategic Communications to elevate the school's research reputation.