• Pediatric Care
  • Cancer Care

Renown Children’s Hospital Joins The Children’s Oncology Group

January 05, 2022

Dr. J. Martin Johnston, Renown Health's Chief of Hematology and Oncology with Patient

Dr. J. Martin Johnston, Renown Health's Chief of Hematology and Oncology.

Renown now home to northern Nevada's only Children's Oncology Group institution, giving local pediatric cancer patients access to the most cutting-edge treatments.

Renown Children's Hospital announced today that it is now a member of the Children's Oncology Group (COG), the world's largest organization devoted exclusively to childhood cancer. Membership in the COG allows Renown to enroll its youngest patients in the latest clinical trials, including ground-breaking treatments for many childhood cancers, studies to better understand these diseases, and trials focused around supportive care and survivorship.

Renown is now enrolling pediatric patients in clinical trials through the COG. Through this process, many childhood cancer patients will be eligible to receive newly-developed therapies.  For example, some trials employ immunotherapeutic drugs in addition to conventional chemotherapy, in hopes that adding the immunotherapy results in better health outcomes for pediatric cancer patients.

"As a pediatric intensivist by training, I understand how quickly advancements are made in pediatric medicine," said Tony Slonim, MD, DrPH, President & CEO of Renown Health. "As a member of the COG, pediatric oncology patients of Renown Children's Hospital now have access to the latest and most cutting-edge treatment options in addition to commonly prescribed treatments. I am proud of the highly-skilled caregivers at Renown who are constantly expanding their knowledge and contributing research to give our pediatric patients and their families hope for the future."

"Until now, we have been able to offer treatments at Renown based on the current standard of care, which means the treatment is based on published trial results that may not reflect the latest research in the field," said Renown's Chief of Hematology/Oncology, J. Martin Johnston, MD. "Previously, a pediatric oncology patient could only enroll in a COG trial if the family had the capacity to temporarily relocate to the Bay Area or Salt Lake City, for example. Now, our patients will have the opportunity to enroll in these trials without the need to travel so far from home."

"When faced with pediatric cancer, the last thing parents should worry about is traveling great lengths to receive the best in cancer care," said Larry Duncan, Vice President of Pediatrics and Surgery and Administrator, Renown Children's. "We are proud to now offer the most advanced childhood cancer treatment options here at Renown, close to home and convenient for area patients and their families. We always strive to see more patients beat cancer, and being part of the COG helps our expert team of pediatric oncologists implement innovative and new ways to make that happen."

Carson City local Brenda Milligan's son, Austin, was 5 when he was diagnosed with leukemia and received treatment at Renown Children's Hospital. As an active participant in her now 10-year-old son's treatment plan, Brenda shares that she regularly sought out advice from COG providers across the country and is pleased that northern Nevadan parents of children being treated for leukemia can now take full advantage of the COG right at home.

"The COG allows Renown's providers to have access to treatment plans that weren't available when Austin was receiving treatment," said Brenda. "It comforts me to know that not only can children receive cancer treatment right at home, but their parents can now elect for them to participate in trials and plans that are at the forefront of cancer treatment today."

According to the COG, more than 90 percent of 14,000 U.S. children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer annually are cared for at COG member institutions. As a COG member institution, Renown joins over 200 institutions including Stanford, UCSF and Kaiser Permanente in this prestigious honor. The COG is made up of more than 9,000 experts worldwide and has nearly 100 active clinical-translational trials running at once.

Research from the COG has drastically transformed children's cancer outcomes. Just 50 years ago, pediatric cancer was thought to be untreatable; while today, it has a combined five-year survival rate of 80 percent.

"The key to ending childhood cancer is through extensive scientific research and clinical trials," said Max Coppes, Cancer Center Director at Renown Institute for Cancer. "As a COG member institution, our doctors will have the opportunity to collaborate with other pediatric oncologists around the world who share a common goal—to cure all children of cancer. At Renown, we are proud to be at the forefront of life-saving research and treatments for pediatric oncology patients throughout our region."

"We are also grateful to the William N. Pennington Foundation for its support in establishing the William N. Pennington Fund for Advance Pediatric Care in 2016, which allowed us to hire more than 15 specialized pediatricians, including in oncology/hematology, which was crucial to our application for COG membership."

About Renown Children's Hospital

Renown Children's Hospital is the only dedicated children's hospital in northern Nevada, and offers a variety of programs and services designed specifically to care for families in our community. It has the region's only pediatric ER and ICU. Renown Children's Hospital is not-for-profit and relies on philanthropic support. Visit renown.org/give to support Renown Children's Hospital. For more information on programs and services, visit renown.org/children.

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