Pediatric cancer specialists meet during SIOP Europe

Pediatric oncology specialists gather this week at the annual SIOP Europe congress. Knowledge exchange and collaboration are central. Pediatric oncologists, nurses and researchers from the Princess Máxima Center are also present in Milan.

At the SIOP conference, the specialists present share the latest developments within pediatric oncology and discuss current priorities and needs. This is important because pediatric cancer is rare. Knowledge exchange and collaboration are thus crucial to achieving better cures and quality of life for children with cancer.

Nursing program

From the SIOP nursing working group, of which the Máxima is a member, the content of the nursing program has been compiled. The Máxima contributes to various nursing topics. For example, on nausea, described by children with cancer as one of the most annoying side effects of treatment. 40% of children suffer from it. Nursing researchers Aeltsje Brinksma and Els Haverkate share results of their research on nausea with European colleagues. Haverkate: 'Nausea is a subjective feeling and no one but the child themselves can indicate whether anti-emetics have sufficient effect on their feelings of nausea. In my research, I ask children which instrument, a so-called Patient Reported Outcome Measure (PROM), they find most appropriate to indicate the severity of nausea.'

Nursing research also comes up because of international collaboration. Brinksma therefore took the initiative to establish the SIOPE working group for nursing researchers. 'The group of nurses doing scientific research within pediatric oncology on how to improve care for children and their families is still very small. That is why it is only logical to join forces and work together as much as possible. That way we can achieve results faster and more efficiently, and that can only benefit the children.'

Organoids and preventing hearing loss

Research into the origin of childhood cancers and the development of new drugs will also be discussed during SIOP Europe. Dr. Karin Sanders, acting group leader in the Clevers e.t. group, talks during a session about growing mini-tumors of very rare types of pediatric cancer. And how these organoids help find new drugs.

Also on the program from the Máxima is an important educational session. Topic is the prevention of hearing loss that children may experience after treatment with the drug cisplatin. Prof. dr. Marry van den Heuvel, pediatric oncologist and research group leader, will share the latest study results and lessons learned on this topic.


Pediatric physical therapist and postdoctoral researcher dr. Emma Verwaaijen shares the latest insights from her field in Milan. During a central session of the 'physical activity and exercise' group, she talks about the physical vulnerability of children with acute lymphatic leukemia (ALL). In the nursing program, she talks about the exercise program 'Maximum Exercise'. She does this together with a fellow Czech physiotherapist, who was recently on a working visit to the Máxima. Verwaaijen: 'These sessions show the growing recognition of the importance of good exercise care within pediatric oncology. Our ultimate, shared goal is to offer children and teenagers with and after cancer a better quality of life. A musculoskeletal system free of symptoms, being able to move independently, to participate with peers and to play sports are important elements of an active and happier life.'

Quality of life

Within the Máxima, cure and quality of life are the focus. However, this approach is not evident for all pediatric oncology centers in Europe. To demonstrate the importance of this, research group leader Prof. dr. Martha Grootenhuis will present research into and experiences with psychosocial support during SIOP Europe. Grootenhuis: 'Our model to prevent medical traumatic stress and care for parents with the child at the center, is not common practice within Europe. By sharing psycho-oncological knowledge, together with our experiences and lessons learned, with colleagues from other centers, I hope to inspire them and offer them tools to work with this. I am also very curious about their questions, insights and obstacles. To be clear: psycho-oncological care is not a luxury but a necessity. Together I hope to further improve care for children with cancer.'

Source: Princess Máxima Center