The Courier-Mail

In­tense treat­ment boosts child­hood can­cer sur­vival

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SUR­VIVAL rates have greatly im­proved for a very rare chil­dren’s can­cer and it has not taken a new “magic bullet” won­der drug.

Chil­dren with acute myeloid leukaemia ( AML) are treated with ex­tremely high doses of chemo­ther­apy, at more toxic lev­els than most adults can bear.

Only about 35 Aus­tralian chil­dren are di­ag­nosed with AML an­nu­ally, ac­count­ing for about 5 per cent of child­hood can­cer cases.

How­ever it is re­spon­si­ble for nearly 9 per cent of can­cer deaths be­fore the age of 15.

Data from Can­cer Coun­cil Queens­land’s Aus­tralian Pae­di­atric Can­cer Reg­istry re­veals sur­vival rates for chil­dren di­ag­nosed with AML have in­creased from 54 per cent, be­tween 1997 and 2002, to 69 per cent, be­tween 2003 and 2008.

The re­search also found chil­dren with AML spent longer in hos­pi­tal, were ad­mit­ted to the ICU more and had more in­fec­tions than other chil­dren with can­cer.

“The sur­vival rates haven’t been due to a new magic bullet drug, it’s re­ally been our abil­ity to give pretty old-fash­ioned chemo­ther­apy more in­ten­sively,” re­searcher at UQ Dia­mantina In­sti­tute and pae­di­atric on­col­o­gist Dr An­drew Moore said.

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