June 1, 2021

June 2021: Universal newborn screening to identify pediatric cancer predisposition – could it work?

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Universal newborn screening has been successful at improving treatment and decreasing morbidity and mortality for a number of childhood diseases. Recently, a team of researchers investigated the utility of newborn screening for rare genetic pediatric cancer syndromes. Knowing whether a newborn has a genetic variant strongly associated with pediatric cancer predisposition syndromes can potentially lead to focused surveillance of these infants, improved management, better health outcomes, and may even be cost-effective. On this month’s GenePod, Lisa Diller, MD, professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and vice chair of pediatric oncology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and Jennifer Yeh, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, discuss their model-based universal screening program to answer questions about potential benefits, costs, and risks of universal newborn screening for pediatric cancer predisposition syndromes.