Category Archives: Cancer Treatments

Gene Therapy: Does it Work?


While Gene Therapy has been around for a few years already, we don’t seem to be hearing much about it being used to treat cancer, especially paediatric cancer, and one cannot help but wonder why…

In most gene therapy studies, a “normal” gene is inserted into the genome to replace an “abnormal,” disease-causing gene. In cancer, some cells become diseased because certain genes have been permanently turned off. Using gene therapy, mutated genes that cause disease could be turned off so that they no longer promote disease, or healthy genes that help prevent disease could be turned on so that they can inhibit the disease.

Other cells may be missing certain genes. Researchers hope that replacing missing or defective genes can help treat certain diseases. For example, a common tumor suppressor gene called p53 normally prevents tumor growth in your body. Several types of cancer have been linked to a missing or inactive p53 gene. If doctors could replace p53 where it’s missing, that might trigger the cancer cells to die.

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When Your Child with Cancer is Taking Steroids


child-cancer-and-steroidsSteroids occur naturally within our bodies, but can also be made in the laboratory for medical purposes. They help reduce inflammation and control different functions in our bodies such as the immune system or the way the body uses food. One of their key functions is to reduce inflammation/swelling and ease associated symptoms, such as headaches.

When your child has a tumour in their brain it is not only the tumour itself that causes some of the symptoms they may have, but also the swelling surrounding the tumour. This swelling puts pressure on surrounding tissues making the effects of the tumour wider reaching. This pressure can cause symptoms such as headaches, sickness and seizures (fits).

To help reduce the swelling, Children with Cancer may be prescribed steroids such as Prednisone or Dexamethasone as part of their treatment. As steroids are fast-acting drugs this could mean that some of the effects caused by the tumour reduce quite quickly. This does not mean, however, that the size of tumour itself has been reduced.

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Cardamom Recipes for Children with Cancer


foodiefriday-wp-logoHey there Fans – it is Foodie Friday again so, following on our post about the health and cancer-fighting benefits of cardomom yesterday, here are some great cardomom recipes that both you and your Child with Cancer are sure to thoroughly enjoy!

Please remember that if there are any specific recipes that you would like for your Child with Cancer (something with their favourite foods) that you think will help them to eat when they are feeling poorly from their cancer treatment, drop us a line on our Contact Us page and we will be happy to research some easy recipes for you.

The same goes for any other information that you would like about Childhood Cancer ~ this blog is for YOU so we always try to post information that you need and/or want.

Have fun trying out the following recipes and let us know what they are like and whether your child enjoyed them.

 

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Cancer Benefits of Cardamom


health-benefits-of-cardamomCardamom is a peppery, citrusy spice that is native to the evergreen forests of India and is commonly used in Indian cuisine, but it has also made its way into Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for mouth ulcers, digestive problems, and even depression.

According to various studies, cardamom also contains cancer-fighting compounds with the potential to kill cancer cells as well as stunt new cancer cell growth. In India, Cardamom was known as the “Queen of spices” to black pepper’s title as the “King of spices”. Also in India, during the 11th century, it was listed as one of the ingredients in the “Five fragrance betel chew” in the Book of Splendour.

Historically, spices have shaped many events throughout the world. Many voyagers, including the legendary Christopher Columbus, explored the seas in search of treasured spices. These valued commodities contribute not only flavours but also serve as colorants and preservatives in a wide variety of cultures.

In Ayurveda (the ancient Indian science of medicine and lifestyle) and Traditional Chinese Medicine, cardamom was believed to be a remedy for teeth and gum infections, throat problems, congestion of the lungs, pulmonary tuberculosis, inflammation of the eyelids, gastrointestinal disorders, disintegrating kidney, and gall bladder stones, and was also used as an antidote for poisons and venoms.

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Potential Alternative to Bone Marrow Transplants Awarded FDA Breakthrough Therapy Status


gamida-300x205Gamida Cell, a leader in cellular and immune therapies for the treatment of cancer and orphan genetic diseases, has been granted breakthrough therapy designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the Company’s lead product candidate, NiCord®, in development as a novel graft modality for bone marrow transplantation in patients with high risk haematological malignancies (blood cancers) such as leukaemia and lymphoma.

NiCord® is cryopreserved (frozen) umbilical cord blood stem and progenitor cells, that were expanded (population increased) ex-vivo (outside of the body). NiCord® is derived from a single umbilical cord blood unit which has been expanded in culture and enriched with stem and progenitor cells using Gamida Cell’s proprietary NAM technology, and is in development as an investigational therapeutic treatment for blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma and for non-malignant haematological diseases.

NiCord® was originally transplanted as a “fresh” product that had to be infused into the patient within a limited number of hours from the moment the product was released from the manufacturing site. This timetable restricted the window for transplantation for the patient and limited the location of manufacturing sites to the vicinity of participating medical centers;it also increased the cost of shipping and logistical support required from manufacturing through delivery.

The first person was successfully transplanted with cryopreserved (frozen) NiCord in the company’s ongoing Phase I/II clinical study for blood cancer patients in January 2015.

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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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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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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

 

Coping with Thrombocytopenia in Childhood Cancer


Blood_cells_MED_ILL_EN_300Symptom 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.

Thrombocytopenia is a blood disease characterised by an abnormally small number of platelets, also called thrombocytes, in the blood. They stop bleeding by helping the blood to clot and plugging damaged blood vessels.

Thrombocytopenia occurs when the body does not make enough platelets, is losing platelets, or destroys platelets. Thrombocytopenia is common in individuals with cancer, especially in those receiving chemotherapy.

Many things can cause thrombocytopenia in children, most commonly infections (especially viral infections) and destruction of platelets by the immune system (called immune thrombocytopenia or ITP). Children with thrombocytopenia may also have lower numbers of other blood cell types, such as red and white blood cells, depending on the cause.

Symptoms often do not occur until the level of platelets is very low, which is why many individuals do not know they have thrombocytopenia until it is diagnosed during a blood test.

Some types of chemotherapy and some other medications damage the bone marrow, lowering its production of platelets. Thrombocytopenia caused by chemotherapy is usually temporary; in very cases, the chemotherapy may permanently damage some of the bone marrow cells that make platelets.

Individuals with certain types of cancer or those who are undergoing a type of cancer treatment known to cause thrombocytopenia may be given regular blood tests to look for thrombocytopenia and other blood-related complications.

 

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

 

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