Children's Cancer Care

The Montreal Children’s Hospital established its division of Hematology/Oncology in 1947 and has never looked back! Every year the oncology day centre completes more than six thousand patient visits.

While the fight against cancer continues, there have been significant victories thanks to the vision, the motivation, and the commitment that drive our team. We form close ties with patients and their families and unite against a common foe.

Internationally recognized for advances in neuro- oncology and neurosurgery, The Montreal Children’s Hospital manages a supra-regional program under the direction of hematologist Blair Whittemore. We are confident that this program will receive FACT accreditation for stem cell transplantation in the near future.

The Montreal Children’s Hospital is currently a member of the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Consortium, the Canadian Blood and Marrow Transplant Group and the Centre for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research — three organizations contributing to research, training and standardizing procedures in stem cell transplants. It is, also, a founding member of the Children’s Oncology Group, an organization that links more than 240 centres around the globe, and represents the largest pediatric cancer research and knowledge transfer hub in the world.

A new roof, A new step forward

Once the move to the Glen Campus becomes a reality, the new Montreal Children’s Hospital will be in an even better position to provide patients with the highest levels of care. Proximity to adult facilities and to the Research Institute, all located on the same campus, will provide exceptional opportunities for knowledge transfer. It will also allow patients and their families to make a smooth transition between pediatric programs and services for adolescents and young adults. This will represent an important step forward where seamless care, state of- the-art equipment, innovative approaches and integrated services will be brought to bear for the best care for life.

Hematology-Oncology: a science that is constantly evolving

“Understanding the mechanisms of cancer allows us to develop more targeted treatments,” says Hemato-Oncologist and Researcher Nada Jabado. That is the thinking behind the McGill University Health Centre’s deployment of an arsenal of research and training programs to promote hematology-oncology. This includes a fellowship intended to attract and retain a new generation of specialists in Quebec. Medical students are regularly invited to participate in research projects to stimulate their interest in the discipline. “Investigation in the lab drives clinical care and leads to concrete results,” Dr. Jabado continues. “In 1960, only 20% of children with leukemia survived. Today closer to 90% win their fight against that cancer.”

Currently, researchers at the McGill University Health Centre are studying brain tumours that begin as astrocytes (star-shaped glial cells mainly found in the central nervous system as well as in the brain), more specifically glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive brain cancer that has now surpassed leukemia as the leading cause of cancer death in children. Another project, under the supervision of Dr. Jitka Stankova, is evaluating the inhibition of antisense in the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene that is capable of reducing cancerous cell life in vitro and in vivo. Dr. Januz Rak, whose work on the basic communication mechanisms between cancerous cells received the 2008 Discovery of the Year Award from Québec Science, is leading a research program on angiogenesis in metastases of generalized cancers, basing his investigation on the hypothesis that the vascular system is significant in the propagation of cancerous cells, but that it functions differently in children than it does in adults.