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Blast off: Phoenix Children’s Hospital joins movement to find cure for pediatric cancer

In this April 29, 2014 file photo, Moriah Barnhart, a mother of a child with severe cancer, sits with her three year old daughter Dahlia, who receives legal medical marijuana extracts for treatment, at their home in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, file)

PHOENIX — Arizona is taking the lead in the fight against pediatric cancer.

On Thursday, several Arizona lawmakers gathered at the state capitol to celebrate the state’s involvement in Cancer Moonshot 2020, an ambitious effort to find a cure to the deadly disease by the start of the next decade.

As part of the program, Phoenix Children’s Hospital will implement a new GPS cancer test in the hopes of helping children battle the disease.

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a surgeon who is a part of the program, said the test will identify the abnormality in a patient and create a vaccine to fight it.

“It can identify the sequence that is abnormal in the patient on a very personalized level and use that to try and create a vaccine and stimulate the immune system,” he said.

With the knowledge of this test, he said, it will hopefully drive cancer patients to remission without undergoing high-dose chemotherapy.

Soon-Shiong said some of the top cancer doctors from around the country will be analyzing the results of the GPS cancer tests.

“We’ll have the brightest minds in the nation looking at the results and either entering the patient into a clinical trial or changing how they care for the patient,” he said.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said the city is now the epicenter in this fight against pediatric cancer.

“Phoenix is proud to take a leading role in this effort because it is critical that, as a nation, we do more and invest more to find cures for cancers in children,” he said.

The American Cancer Society estimated that 10,380 children in the United States under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer this year.

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