Combination Therapy Best to Treat Aggressive Brain Cancer

BrainCancerMost Brain Cancers are treated with Radiation Therapy, but the cancer cells can repair themselves in order to live on.

Researchers at Sidney’s Kimmel Cancer Center recently tested a strategy that combines radiotherapy with a drug that shuts down the ability of tumours  to mend themselves.

According to the research, published in the Journal of Neuro-Oncology, results of the study are such that a more comprehensive, phase 2 clinical trial should be conducted to test the combination therapy for aggressive, recurrent brain cancer.

We saw synergy between radiotherapy and the agent, panobinostat. Our findings suggest panobinostat makes radiotherapy much more effective,” says the study’s senior author, Yaacov R. Lawrence, M.D., of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University’s Sidney Kimmel Medical College.

All 12 patients tested in the study had high-grade gliomas that had recurred after initial radiotherapy. Eight patients had recurrent glioblastoma, and four had recurrent anaplastic astrocytoma.

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Honouring Cher Manning

cher soft edgesIt is with great sadness that I write this post and truth be told it has taken me 24 hours to even be able to think lucidly… on Thursday morning the world lost a wonderful loving soul in the form of Cher Manning to cancer.

To those of you who do not know or remember who Cher was, she was the lady who, when she heard about the Little Fighters Cancer Trust jumped in feet first to help, and arranged for LFCT to be the 2015 beneficiary of the annual Mosaic Association of South Africa (MASA) Community Service Project. (Cher was the founding member of the Mosaic Association of South Africa and owner of Cherian Mosaics)

Thus the Butterflies for Kids with Cancerwas born; a project through which MASA members created and donated 20x20cm mosaiced butterflies to be donated to and mounted in various Paediatric Oncology Wards across South Africa.

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Breakthrough in Cancer Cell Screening Advances Personalised Treatment of Childhood Leukaemia

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia Awareness RibbonAcute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia is the most common form of childhood cancer, but thanks to research, up to nine in 10 children diagnosed with ALL will now achieve a long-term cure. Unfortunately, in those whose disease relapses, the prognosis is not that good and fewer than 6 in 10 children survive longer than 5 years.

Researchers at Newcastle University have recently completed the largest study of its kind, and thanks to their findings, doctors will now be able to analyse the genetic profile of cancer cells to personalise treatment and improve survival rates.

The Newcastle study, Integration of genetic and clinical risk factors improves prognostication in relapsed childhood B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, published in the prestigious journal Blood, analysed leukaemia cells from 427 children treated for relapsed Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia between 2003 and 2013, using a variety of genetic tests including fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH), where glowing tags are bound to sequences of DNA within the cancer cells, allowing scientists to view specific genetic changes under a microscope.

Genetic faults within developing white blood cells kick-start and drive leukaemia growth. The types and combinations of genetic errors are known to influence whether a child is likely to respond well to initial treatment, which in turn affects whether they have a good or poor chance of survival.

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Socioeconomic Factors Influence Survival of Younger Patients With Multiple Myeloma

myeloma-SchemeWhile there have been many advances in the treatment of Multiple Myeloma (a cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell. Plasma cells help you fight infections by making antibodies that recognise and attack germs. Multiple Myeloma causes cancer cells to accumulate in the bone marrow, where they crowd out healthy blood cells) that have led to improved survival, it seemed that this was only relevant to young white patients; patients of other ethnicities saw less of an increase in survival rates.

A new study, Impact of Marital Status, Insurance Status, Income, and Race/Ethnicity on the Survival of Younger Patients Diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in the United States,  published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, has found that this has more to do with socioeconomic differences between whites and ethnic minorities, not race itself.

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Coping with Weight Loss in Childhood Cancer

weightlossSymptom Management, Palliative Care, or Supportive Care to relieve side-effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment and should always form part of the overall treatment plan.

Weight loss is commonplace among individuals with cancer – it is frequently the first noticeable sign of the disease.

Around 40% of individuals with cancer have experienced unexplained weight loss at the time of diagnosis, and as many as 80% of people with advanced cancer experience weight loss and cachexia (wasting), which is the combination of weight loss and muscle mass loss.

Weight loss and muscle wasting are also often accompanied by Fatigue, loss of energy, weakness, and an inability to perform everyday tasks. Individuals experiencing cachexia often cannot manage treatments well and may also experience more intense symptoms.

Nutrition counseling may help your child get Essential Nutrients, such as protein, vitamins, and minerals into their diet and maintain a healthy body weight. Ask your child’s healthcare team for help or for a referral to a registered dietitian or nutritionist.

Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Weight Loss on our static page, Weight Loss in Childhood Cancer


Coping with Chemobrain in Childhood Cancer

23843263_sSymptom Management, Palliative Care, or Supportive Care to relieve side-effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment and should always form part of the part of the overall treatment plan.

Around 70% of cancer survivors report difficulties with memory and concentration after undergoing chemotherapy – this is conversationally referred to as “Chemobrain,” which is described as a mental clouding or fogginess, during and after cancer treatment.

Chemobrain refers to the cognitive impairment that can occur after cancer treatment. It’s not limited to people who undergo chemotherapy (surgery and radiation can also contribute), but it’s more noticeable if one has undergone chemotherapy.

Symptoms of chemobrain can be very frustrating because no matter how well your child speaks or writes, it can cause them to forget words that they have used often, making them have to resort to saying “that thing” or “the thing” instead of “that car” or “the cat” for instance.

Chemobrain is partially based on body and mind fatigue. Animal studies have shown that chemotherapy may cause temporary reductions in cell growth in brain areas (e.g. the hippocampus) that control learning and memory.


Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Chemobrain on our static page, Chemobrain in Childhood Cancer


Antioxidant Suppression Decimates Pancreatic Cancer Cells

3-list-antioxidants-foodNew research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) in New York has revealed that a novel drug therapy that mimics the suppression of an antioxidant-promoting protein kills pancreatic cancer cells.

Pancreatic cancer is caused by the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of cells in the pancreas.

The team  found that reducing levels of antioxidants in pancreatic cells can help to kill them. This novel strategy for wiping out pancreatic cancer cells may open new doors for treating this serious illness, in which less than 5% percent of patients survive beyond 5 years.

Antioxidant” is currently a popular buzzword that is viewed as a panacea for health ailments; it is widely believed that raising levels of antioxidants stops cancer cells from developing.

The reality is that although antioxidants interact with and neutralise free radicals and prevent them from causing damage, there is minimal evidence that antioxidants actually prevent cancer.

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Coping with Weight Gain in Childhood Cancer

Symptom Management, Palliative Care, or Supportive Care to relieve side-effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment and should always form part of the overall treatment plan.

Although most individuals lose weight during cancer treatment, some gain weight. Minor increases in weight during cancer treatment are generally not a problem, but significant weight-gain may affect your child’s health and ability to undergo treatment.

Being overweight could also negatively impact your child’s self-image and could lead to them being teased by other children and become a recluse to avoid taunts. This will severely impact on the emotional as well as physical wellbeing of your child, which is not something they need when they are battling cancer.

If weight gain in your child becomes a problem, speak to their Doctor or Oncology Team before starting them on a diet or changing their eating habits. Your child’s medical team can help find out the possible cause of the weight gain and discuss how best to manage it.

Weight gain can generally be managed quite successfully via Diet & Physical Activity modifications, as can fluid retention via various methods.

Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Weight Gain on our static page, Weight Gain in Childhood Cancer


Predictable Characteristics Developed by Tumour Cells are not Random

cancer cells 2Researchers at the Moffitt Cancer Center used a mathematical model to show that cells in the exterior and interior of a tumour develop different predictable characteristics.

Tumours are composed of many sub-populations of cells, and until now, the general consensus among scientists was that these sub-populations are due to random mutations.

This latest research by Moffitt Cancer Center, however, according to a new article entitled  Darwinian Dynamics of Intratumoral Heterogeneity: Not Solely Random Mutations but Also Variable Environmental Selection Forces, published in the journal Cancer Research, seems to contradict this.

According to the researchers, certain sub-populations can be predicted and do not develop randomly as previously thought.

The Integrated Mathematical Oncology Department at Moffitt makes use of novel approaches and techniques to study cancer, and has developed a mathematical model based on evolutionary theories to show differences in sub-populations of tumours.

Their model is based on the evolutionary concept that, similar to all living organisms, cancer cells can invest resources in reproduction or the ability to survive, but not both.

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Innovative Hand-Held OCT Probe Takes High-resolution Images of Children’s Retinas

Handheld Device with cellular resolutionResearchers and ophthalmologists from Duke University have presented a new option to examine children’s eyes in a new study entitled “In vivo cellular-resolution retinal imaging in infants and children using an ultracompact handheld probe” published in Nature Photonics.

The new handheld device is about the same size as a pack of cigarettes, weighs next to nothing and is capable of gathering detailed information about the retina’s cellular structure.

The device is being hailed as a great achievement as up to now it has been very difficult to gather data as to how a child’s retina develops, as it matures by the age of 10. This has severely impacted and limited knowledge of how diseases affect a child’s vision early in life and has made diagnosing various diseases more difficult.

The human eye presents an extraordinary opportunity for research and imaging because it is easy to access; it is relatively self-contained; improvements in function can be easily measured, and there is even a natural opening that allows us to peer inside. The eye is also delicate though, with complex vital structures concealed mere millimetres below various surfaces, which necessitates the use of a wide range of technologies to study it.

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Understanding How Stem Cells Become Specialised – Breakthrough!

stemcellsScientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) recently made a major advance in understanding how the cells of an organism, which all contain the same genetic information, come to be so diverse.

A study published recently in Molecular Cell shows that a protein called OCT4 narrows down the range of cell types that stem cells can become. The findings could impact efforts to produce specific types of cells for future therapies to treat a broad range of diseases, as well as aid the understanding of which cells are affected by drugs that influence cell specialization.

We found that the stem cell-specific protein OCT4 primes certain genes that, when activated, cause the cell to differentiate, or become more specialized,” said Laszlo Nagy, M.D., Ph.D., professor and director of the Genomic Control of Metabolism Program and senior author of the study. “This priming customizes stem cells’ responses to signals that induce differentiation and makes the underlying genetic process more efficient.Read the rest of this entry

Paediatric cancer families benefit from Facebook conversations

child cancer social media - smWhen it comes to sharing experiences caring for a child with cancer, parents often turn to social media as a way to connect with support.

This fact the Little Fighters Cancer Trust can attest to, as our Facebook Page is really busy with informative posts, funding and donation requests, and articles from us as well as communication with our Little Fighters’ Families.

Those are also the findings of new research published online ahead of print by the journal Cancer Nursing.

Little research has systematically studied how people use social networking sites when confronting serious illness,” says the paper’s first author, Elizabeth Gage-Bouchard, PhD, Associate Member of Cancer Prevention and Control at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Our study shows that personal Facebook pages offer a platform for cancer caregivers to share their cancer-related experiences, promote advocacy and awareness and mobilize social support,” adds Lynda Kwon Beaupin, MD, Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Department of Paediatric Oncology.

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