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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