It is estimated that 300,000 children 0–14 years of age are diagnosed with cancer worldwide each year. While the absolute risk of cancer in children is low, it is the leading cause of death due to disease in children in high-income countries. In spite of this, the etiologies of pediatric cancer are largely unknown. Environmental exposures have long been thought to play an etiologic role. However, to date, there are few well-established environmental risk factors for pediatric malignancies, likely due to technical barriers in collecting biological samples prospectively in pediatric populations for direct measurements. In this review, we propose the use of novel or underutilized biospecimens (dried blood spots and teeth) and molecular approaches for exposure assessment (epigenetics, metabolomics, and somatic mutational profiles). Future epidemiologic studies of pediatric cancer should incorporate novel exposure assessment methodologies, data on molecular features of tumors, and a more complete assessment of gene-environment interactions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This manuscript was funding in part by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) RP180755.
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- blood spots
- environmental exposures
- pediatric cancer