When cisplatin was first used to treat cancer in the late 70s, it made a big impact.
“It was the most extraordinary breakthrough treatment,” says Dr Penelope Brock, paediatric consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital. “It started as a treatment for testicular cancer, but it wasn’t long before we started using it to treat children’s cancers as well.”
Unfortunately, as well as killing cancer cells, the chemotherapy also killed cells in the inner ear. This left over 60% of children with hearing loss after treatment.
The unexpected side effect has been a focus of Brock’s research since it was first discovered. And now, almost 40 years later, a solution may have arrived.
New research, funded by Cancer Research UK and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows a drug called sodium thiosulphate can protect against hearing loss after cisplatin treatment.
“With sodium thiosulphate, we have a real opportunity to make children’s cancer treatment safer. The results have been a long time coming, and I’m so glad they’re finally here.”
Cancer patients in Gauteng die while waiting for radiation treatment and the delays mean any intervention already made is rendered useless, reports the Sunday Times.
“It’s bigger than the Esidimeni tragedy,” said one senior oncologist. About half of all cancer patients will need radiation as part of their treatment but can expect to wait up to four months if they are accessing it in state hospitals in Johannesburg and Pretoria – delays described by doctors as “extreme and unacceptable”. Waiting too long for radiation can mean the cancer is much more likely to return, explained the medical director at Campaigning for Cancer, oncologist Devan Moodley in a Sunday Times report.
In December a surgeon at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoriawrote to the hospital manager to ask that the radiation backlog be dealt with. He wrote: “Many (patients) have transport problems and cannot visit again and again. Some die waiting for treatment.” In the letter the doctor describes the impact of the backlog, like the patient in his 20s who had a tumour removed in December. He needed to start radiation within six weeks to try to prevent a recurrence of the disease, but his first appointment with the radiology department was in March and he will likely only start radiation in June. Another patient is described as young and with an “excellent prognosis” – if he receives radiation within six weeks.
SA has just 38 state-employed radiation oncologists, of which 16 are in the Western Cape, according to the annual survey conducted by the SA Society of Clinical and Radiation Oncology. Bhekisisa reports that cancer services are buckling nationwide, with possibly half of the provinces relying on just nine radiation oncologists.
There is not a single radiation oncologist left in Limpopo orMpumalanga, according to Sascro. Half the country’s provinces may be relying on just nine radiation oncologists and, Bhekisisa reports, Johannesburg may no longer be able to pick up the slack.
Only radiation oncologists are qualified to provide the treatment many cancer patients require. This type of treatment is needed in about half of cancer cases. In North West, a lone doctor at Klerksdorp Tshepong Hospital Complex is the last radiation oncologist in that province, provincial health spokesperson Tebogo Llekgethwane admits.
One of the biggest worries of a parent of a Child with Cancer (apart from the cancer itself of course) is that it is so difficult to get a child to eat when he or she is undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment as their appetite is non-existent and they may also have sores in their mouth, nausea or difficulty swallowing.
The following recipes are great for this problem, as they are all snacks that kids will love, they are highly nutritious so even eating a small amount is good, and they will help strengthen your child’s immune system so that he or she can fight off the cancer and any infections.
Remember also that although these recipes are aimed at Children with Cancer, the other kids and the adults (or the kid in them) will love them too, so make sure that you make enough for everyone!
We hope that you all had a great week and that nobody washed away in any of the flooding that various areas experienced this week.
Today we are once again bringing you some great, easy recipes to tickle your and your Child with Cancer’s taste-buds. Today’s post features Chicken, a Burger, a Smoothie and some lovely sweet treats, for what is life without something delectable and decadent?
Dandelion is a very rich source of beta-carotene which we convert into vitamin A. This flowering plant is also rich in vitamin C, fibre, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus.
It’s a good way to get B complex vitamins, trace minerals, organic sodium, and even some vitamin D too. Dandelion also contains protein – more than spinach. It has been eaten for thousands of years as a food and as a medicine to treat anaemia, scurvy, skin problems, blood disorders, and depression.
Dandelion root is tougher and hardier than the leaf and is often used in decoctions and tinctures for this reason. The powder is often added in coffee substitutes. The root is considered a natural diuretic and is sometimes used for this purpose.
Dandelion root and leaf are often listed as the ingredients of teas and poultices for abscesses and sores, especially on the breast and in female health remedies as they can help support lactation and remedy urinary issues.
There’s something magical about making a wish while blowing dandelion petals through the air. Just one glance at a dandelion brings back childhood memories. And while some consider them pesky weeds, dandelion offers a treasure trove of healing benefits.
Dandelion greens are used in so many health applications today. Whether steamed, sautéed, used in soup, or boiled with water and brown sugar for tea, the greens of these weeds are considered an herbal medicine.
The extract (from dandelion root) is purported to work by inducing apoptosis in the cancer cells. To put this another way, this process forces the cancer cells to commit suicide without damaging the healthy cells in any way.
Dandelion Root is frequently used by herbalists to treat liver, kidney, and gallbladder problems. Dandelion Root has been used in China for certain kinds of cancers for centuries. Dandelion is a source of a variety of nutrients and the leaves and root contain Vitamins (A,C, K and B-vitamins) as well as minerals (including magnesium, zinc, potassium, iron, calcium and choline).
While Childhood Cancer is “relatively rare” with an incident rate of around 1 in 600, or 150 patients per million in South Africa, too many children with Cancer are dying needlessly because cancer, including Childhood Cancer, is not a priority in South Africa.
The cure rate for Childhood Cancer in high income countries is around 80% but childhood cancer survival rates in low-income countries may be as low as 10%.
This is extremely disturbing when one factors in that out of the 250 000 children diagnosed worldwide with cancer every year, 80% live in low and middle-income countries and 90% of childhood cancer deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.
This is partially due to a lack of awareness of Childhood Cancer which leads to late diagnosis, and partially due to many Childhood Cancer patients falling through the cracks when it comes to support services, which are sorely lacking from government.