In the 90s, a new idea regarding the manner in which cancer should be treated in young children revolutionized oncology pediatrics and both extended as well as improved life for thousands of young patients and nowadays 80% of the children diagnosed with the big C can be treated without any long term side effects.
The idea was to give lower dose of radiation and hold out on giving some of the more aggressive type of chemotherapy to children. Their idea was also to administer radiation therapy only to targeted areas.
Before adopting this attitude towards cancer in children, the young patients usually received the same aggressive treatment meant to treat adult cancers and although the tumor went away, their internal organs were affected by the treatment to such an extent that it was fatal to them a few years later.
Therefore, the problem was serious and needed to be addressed as soon as possible, but many physicians feared that lowering the doses of medication will mean that the cancer cells will not be destroyed and that the child will die even sooner.
Thankfully, this was not the case. After tracking down more than 34,000 children who have battled cancer in their youth, scientists concluded that reducing the intensity of the treatment was the right call.
15 years after the decision was taken, there are now fewer patients who developed second cancers or cardiovascular problems.
Dr. Greg Armstrong from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis was pleased by the result and said that the new drugs and treatment methods are more effective than ever before. He also added that 50 years ago only 30% of the children diagnosed with cancer would survive the disease and the treatment, but with the tools that modern medicine has today, the survival rate has increased to 80%.
Blood cancers or leukemia are one of the most common types of cancer that affect young and old people and among that group, acute lymphocytic leukemia is the most common type of cancer that can affect a young child.
A lot of research has gone into improving the staging of blood cancers in order to figure out whether or not the bone marrow had been affected. Learning the staging of a cancer provides valuable information about the intensity of the treatment that should be used.
For instance, if the bone marrow has been invaded by cancer cells then the treatment will involved both chemo and radiation, but if the bone marrow has not been affected yet, then only chemotherapy can be used.
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