Hi, my name is Yoshiko Nakano, and I am a pediatric oncologist in Japan. Shinsuke Hirabayashi and I will join the YI committee for the upcoming 50th SIOP Congress in Kyoto. Today, we would like to write about some aspects of the current status of pediatric hematology/oncology in Japan.
There are two main organization leading the field of pediatric oncology in Japan: Japanese Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (JSPHO) and Japan Children’s Cancer Group (JCCG). About 250 institutions/hospitals are now registered in JSPHO. As an academic organization, JSPHO organizes annual conferences, certifies pediatric hematology/oncology specialists and publish journals, and so on. Japan Children’s Cancer Group (JCCG) is nonprofit organization (NPO). It started in 2014, with the aim of promoting nationwide central diagnoses, clinical studies and basic research of childhood cancer. Before the establishment of JCCG, there were several clinical study/research groups. These groups were reorganized as JCCG to provide better care for children and promote clinical trials for cancer in children including international collaborative studies.
Generally speaking, the standard of medical care in Japan is high and childhood cancer patients receive their care without burden of medical costs. However, luck of funding for development for pediatric oncology is a big problem. Also, there is no legal obligation to ensure the development of new medicines for children; therefore, early approval of new medicine for children is challenging. Under these conditions, investigator-initiated early phase trials supported by competitive research funds are underway and JSPHO, JCCG and patients’ organizations are appealing to the governments.
As for basic research, JCCG also prospectively preserves clinical samples and promotes basic research. Moreover, Japan has traditionally many outstanding scientists, as you will see in the keynote lectures at the next SIOP, Dr. Tasuku Honjo identified PD-1, and Dr. Yoshinori Osumi was awarded a Nobel Prize for his discoveries of the mechanisms for autophagy.
We hope to share our recent achievements and challenges in Japan at the next SIOP Congress in Kyoto and make for further collaborations.