Children with cancer in the UK are to benefit nationally from a service which for the first time will allow doctors to personalise their treatment.
The therapeutic drug monitoring service, developed by Newcastle University experts, allows clinicians to obtain vital information about how much chemotherapy individual young patients should receive.
Youngsters diagnosed with cancer, including infants in the first weeks of life, can be particularly hard to treat as it is difficult to know how much chemotherapy to give.
Doctors sometimes have to make tough decisions about the most appropriate dose of a drug, without enough scientific information to help them decide on the best course of action.
In Part 1 of this series we explained that this series of articles is not meant to be medical advice, but a guide that may help you as a parent of a newly diagnosed child with cancer cope just a bit better. Information is knowledge, and never more so than when you are dealing with childhood cancer!
These articles are meant to help you be the key part of your child’s treatment that you will need to be.
Take what works for you according to your situation and your child’s temperament, personality, fears, strengths, and how they deal with adversity, and leave what does not pertain to your situation.
Part 5 will deal with Different Types of Treatment and Possible Side-Effects of that treatment. As this is quite a long section, I will split it into 5(i) Surgery 5(ii) Chemotherapy 5(iii) Radiation Therapy 5(iv) Immunotherapy and Bone Marrow and Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplants.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine treatment (CAM) is very involved and will contain a lot of information, so that will be dealt with separately in Part 6 of this series of articles.
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.
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.
Doctors used to dismiss patients who complained of brain fog after cancer treatment. It’s still unclear exactly how many patients among the 15-million-plus cancer survivors are affected.
Little Fighter Kenzo Phillips was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) in February 2016, at a mere 8 months of age.
Kenzo has gone through much in his short lifespan, including harsh chemotherapy treatments, and has seen more hospitals and doctors than any child should…
Earlier this month LFCT celebrated with Kenzo and his family at the news that, after his annual 4 weekly check-up – a full month after his final chemo treatment – His blood counts were perfect and the doctors were very happy – his Bone Marrow Biopsy also came back CLEAR!!!!!
Cancer is fickle however, and a mere FIVE DAYS later Kenzo was rushed to hospital with a terrible headache & vomiting.
Chemotherapy is the use of specific drugs, administered by a paediatric oncologist, to destroy cancer cells by preventing the cancer cells from growing and dividing to make more new cells. Cancer cells generally grow and divide much faster than healthy cells; chemotherapy destroys them more quickly than it destroys most healthy cells.
Chemotherapy drugs are very powerful and they cause damage to many growing cells, including some healthy cells. This damage causes the side effects of chemotherapy, which can include Nausea and Vomiting; Diarrhoea; Constipation; Heartburn or Stomach Ache; Sore Mouth or Throat/Mouth Sores; Change in Taste – Foods Have Less Taste or a Bitter Metallic Taste; Hair Loss; Skin Redness; Dry, Itching Skin; Moist Skin; Rashes; Sun Sensitivity; Swelling, Redness, or Pain at The Needle Site Where Chemotherapy Drugs are Given; Bladder Irritation and Infection; Change in Urine Colour & Strong Urine Odour; Nerve Damage; Stress Fractures; Fever; Flu-Like Symptoms; Infection; Anaemia/Fatigue; Blood Clotting Problems (Bleeding); Swelling/Fluid Retention; and Allergic Reaction.
A potential side effect of chemotherapy treatment is issues with taste — either food not tasting like anything or a bitter or metallic taste in one’s mouth.
Food for Children with Cancer going through Chemotherapy is important, because they need to keep up their strength up and maintain weight.
Why does this happen, and what can you, as a parent, do to cope?
As chemotherapy kills cancerous cells, it kills other types of cells too, including taste cells. Fortunately this change in taste is usually temporary – the chemotherapy agents in the blood stream get into the saliva, giving it a metallic flavour.
The most important thing that you need to do for your Child with Cancer during and after treatment is to see that they eat sufficient and that what they eat is nutritious, which can be rather difficult when your child has no appetite, may have sores in their mouth from the chemotherapy and when everything tastes different anyway.
Children with Cancer generally have many problems caused by their cancer and by the cancer treatments they are undergoing, such as Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy, including losing weight, inability to eat or swallow, and an impaired immune system exactly at the time that they need everything they can get to fight this devastating disease.
Part of the answer to these problems may lay in a nutrient-loaded porridge that was developed by the late Dr Basil Kransdorff, a South African doctor, specifically to cater to feeding HIV patients and babies.
The late Dr Basil Kransdorff and wife Rose’s work helping an NGO called CARE (Community AIDS Response) at the Joburg General Hospital, led to a worldwide debate on Food Security vs Nutrition Security.
Back in 2000 there was no medication and Doctors were telling patients diagnosed with HIV to go home, eat a healthy well-balanced diet and prepare to die. It was a difficult time when little was known about treating those living with HIV.
Global childhood cancer rates jumped 13% in the decade to 2010 compared to the 1980s, according to a UN-backed study that says the increase may be due in part to improved detection.
For children under 15, the incidence rate of cancer was 140 per million during the first decade of this century, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reported in The Lancet Oncology.
Locally, the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) in a previous review stated that many developing countries are going through rapid societal and economic changes, and there is a shift toward lifestyles representative of industrialised countries. These factors, along with changes in reproductive, dietary, and hormonal risk factors, are contributing to the rising cancer rates.
Ty Bollinger lost both his mother and father to cancer (as well as 5 other family members). Ty travels the globe and sits down with the foremost doctors, researchers, experts, and cancer conquerers to find out their proven methods for preventing and treating cancer.
In this video, Ty speaks with the founder of the Dr. Rath Research Institure, Dr. Matthias Rath and the director of research, Dr. Aleksandra Niedzwiecki, about why childhood cancer rates are on the rise.
It is important to eat small meals more often while undergoing conventional cancer treatments such as Surgery, Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy.
For those who are suffering side-effects such as dysphasia, sore mouths or nausea, consuming a nutrient dense smoothie for one meal and then trying some sun-dried fruits (without sugar) and untoasted nuts as a snack a few hours later is a good idea.
A lunch with salad greens, bitter herbs, apple slices, berries and a dressing made with lemon and olive oil, a pinch of cayenne pepper and avocado makes an exceptionally nutrient-dense meal.
This type of Ayurvedic diet plan will increase your sense of taste, smell, and appetite and help one heal and feel good.
Conventional Cancer Treatments such as Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy unfortunately generally come with a variety of not-so-nice side effects, such as diarrhoea, one of the more dangerous side effects.
Diarrhoea can not only be painful, but it also removes important nutrients, probiotics, and water from the body. As a result, diarrhoea puts one at a higher risk for more trauma from infection and dehydration.
It is important to manage these side effects immediately to prevent further complications that will weaken your body. The best way to heal is to ensure that you eat only healthy foods and avoid problematic foods that are going to worsen your diarrhoea.