Blog Archives

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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Will Trump Sign the Childhood Cancer STAR ACT?


staract1-300x122In an effort to help thousands of children who undergo cancer treatment each year, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the Childhood Cancer STAR (Survivorship, Treatment, Access and Research) Act.  This bipartisan legislation will advance paediatric cancer research and child-focused cancer treatments, while also improving childhood cancer surveillance, and providing resources for survivors and those impacted by childhood cancer.

Too many young people’s lives have been cut short by cancer.  These kids and their families who’ve battled this disease inspire us to take action.  The Childhood Cancer STAR Act will help young cancer patients and their families get access to potentially life-saving treatments, support survivors, and move us another step closer toward our goal of ending pediatric cancer,” said Senator Reed.

This bipartisan legislation will continue the advances in research, prevention and care for our loved ones and families impacted by childhood cancer,” said Senator Capito. “The Childhood Cancer STAR Act gives parents and patients access to the information they need to make vital decisions about treatment and care post-treatment. This legislation will also give those who understand the unique needs of childhood cancer patients a seat at the table when decisions about cancer care are taking place.”

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Brain Tumour Foundation Working to Cure Paediatric Brain Cancer


ribbon_gray_brain_cancer03The death of a child is an event no parent can ever truly move beyond. Though grief is a lifelong process, for some a personal tragedy such as this can be a springboard to launch an organisation focused on bringing attention to an important cause.

That was the case for Jill and Mazen Kamen, who officially launched the Kamen Brain Tumor Foundation after losing their 19-year-old son in April to brain cancer.

In 2009 he had been diagnosed with a type of rapidly growing brain tumour called a high-grade astrocytoma that, despite aggressive treatment, eventually evolved into a glioblastoma — the highly malignant brain tumor that also took the lives of Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Beau, in 2015 and former Sen. Ted Kennedy in 2009.

The first phase is shock when your child is diagnosed,” said Mazen. “You can’t believe it. You start questioning the why, the where. It’s like someone has hit you with a Mack truck. You have to go through that. But you also have to regroup yourself very quickly, because now you have a long, tedious road ahead. And you really have to do your homework very quickly and efficiently, if you can, to face this.”

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Little Act of Kindness that Means SO Much


chase-ipodToday I was doing some research online as per usual, and, as so often happens, came across a very relevant video about a young boy with Childhood Cancer and a store manager who made a world of a difference just by caring…

It is these small Acts of Kindness that total strangers do that make all the difference…

…to someone who may not have that much to look forward to other than pain…

… or someone who is lonely and just needs someone to show that others do care about them…

… in this case it is a Child with Cancer, and strangers who just felt that they wanted to do something to help.

It is the story of a Manager who did what was within his power to do to help. Neither the Associate nor the Manager had the slightest clue just how much this gift meant to the recipient.

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Are Better Targeted Treatments Possible in Children’s Brain Cancer?


zebrafish-model-cancer-researchAccording to a recent article, MEK Inhibitors Reverse Growth of Embryonal Brain Tumors Derived from Oligoneural Precursor Cells, in the journal Cell Reports, researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah have identified an existing group of drugs that appear to reduce or eliminate a particular subgroup of childhood brain cancers while sparing normal brain tissue.

Childhood Brain Cancer affects thousands of children globally every year, and it kills more children than any other cancer. Malignant brain tumours grow rapidly and are likely to spread into other areas of the brain very quickly. Although brain tumours in children are the second most common form of childhood cancer, it is still unknown what the cause of most childhood brain cancers is.

The research was conducted using a new zebrafish animal model system developed by the researchers, which closely resembles an aggressive subtype of paediatric brain tumours.

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Scientists Tackle Lethal Childhood Brain Cancer


dipgIn precision medicine era legacy gifts of patient brain tissue reveal disease mechanisms and new therapeutic approaches.

Sandra Smith, a pastor’s wife and mother of three in DeWitt, Mich. and her son were both diagnosed with cancer during the same week. She with an aggressive form of breast cancer and her son, six-year-old Andrew, with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a fatal childhood brain cancer that typically strikes between the ages of 4-10 and kills most within a year of diagnosis.

In DIPG, the malignant cells entwine with normal brain tissue in a region that controls critical functions such as breathing and heart rate, making it impossible for a surgeon to remove the tumour. Radiation therapy has been proven to be the only treatment that helps, and then only to extend life by a few short months. Andrew outlived the “typical” DIPG patient by surviving just over two years after his diagnosis, passing away at the end of 2009.

DIPG accounts for about 10% of childhood brain and spinal cord tumours. It is the second-most common paediatric brain tumour and the leading cause of cancer death in children. Treatment options and survival rate for DIPG have not changed in 40 years.

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Childhood Brain Cancer & Battle Scars


Brain Cancer WarriorA Hutchinson boy who’s fighting cancer says his dad is his hero. The feeling’s mutual, and both have matching “battle wounds” to prove it.

Gabriel Marshall, 8, is like any other kid. He loves to laugh, play outside, and sometimes pick on his younger sister. It’s times like those Gabriel cherishes.

I feel like a free kid. I feel like a normal person,” said Gabriel Marshall.

The soon-to-be third grader has been battling brain cancer since March of 2015.

I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked.. you know how could this happen?” asks Gabriel’s mom, Bethany Schultz. “He has always been so healthy, so active and then they turn around and rip my heart out.

At the moment when we found out about it, it felt like somebody had ripped my stomach out of my body,” said Gabriel’s dad Josh Marshall.

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Celebrating Heini – Brain Cancer


heini-sept-16-1September is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and once again the Little Fighters Cancer Trust is hard at work sharing everything we can regarding Childhood Cancer and trying to raise Childhood Cancer Awareness by sharing information and Personal Stories with you.

Today we are once again sharing the story of Little Heinrich van Straaten (Heini). We have shared his story before, but we feel that we need to share it again as this Little Fighter is still fighting every day of his life as a result of brain cancer.

The Little Fighters Cancer Trust would like to sincerely thank all our Onco Parents that have shared with us in the hope that their stories can help other parents who have children that are ill but are not sure what the problem is, and to raise Childhood Cancer Awareness so that earlier diagnosis can be done.

We will continue to publish more poems and stories by Onco Parents throughout this month as we work hard to bring Childhood Cancer to the fore and spread Childhood Cancer Awareness – all in the effort to inform and educate other parents to the ravages of Childhood Cancer and to remind everyone that

The Best Defence against Childhood Cancer is Awareness and Early Diagnosis

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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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2-in-1 Approach Could Prevent Spread Of Deadly Brain Tumour


ephrin-B2According to a recent study published in the journal eLife, scientists have discovered a protein that, if targeted, could prevent the spread of the most common and deadly form of Brain Tumour – Glioblastomas.

Researchers at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Clinical Sciences Centre, Imperial College London,  found that targeting a protein called ephrin-B2 which they had implanted into mice with tumour cells not only halts the division of cancer cells, but also stops them from spreading.

Glioblastomas have thread-like stems which spread into healthy brain tissue very easily, and this makes them especially hard to treat as complete removal of the tumours by surgery alone is impossible. This also results in a high rate of recurrence of the disease.

The team behind the study hope that with further research this two-in-one approach could one day lead to a much-needed new treatment.

While scientists are not 100% clear as to exactly how cancerous tumour cells invade the brain in with Glioblastomas,  they DO know that a cardinal route is via the space surrounding blood vessels; this invasion is called ‘perivascular invasion‘.

The researchers used a cutting-edge technique called intravital imaging to watch this invasion within a mouse brain in real time. They observed that when healthy cells first develop non-cancerous mutations, blood vessels within the brain keep them in a compartment so that they cannot spread and cause damage. They found that the vessels do this by producing ephrin-B2, which appears to immobilise the cells and hold them in place. When the cells become cancerous, they are able to override this signal and escape.

The research showed that cancerous cells do this by producing their own ephrin-B2, which makes them insensitive to the ephrin-B2 already in the blood vessels stopping the cells from spreading. In addition, researchers observed a positive feedback effect alongside the raised levels of ephrin-B2. At high levels, the protein seems to act as a signal, telling the cells to divide.

The team attempted to block the protein in a mouse model implanted with tumour cells from human patients. They discovered that the tumour cells were then unable to divide and spread throughout the brain; this resulted in tumours shrinking in size and the treated mice outliving those that did not receive the treatment – some tumours disappeared completely.

Dr Simona Parrinello, Lead Author of the study and Group Leader at the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, said:

The ephrin-B2 protein is complex but in this case it works in our favour. By blocking one molecule we affect two key aspects of tumours; their ability to divide and their ability to invade. It could be a combined therapy in one.

Dr Adam Babbs, Programme Manager for Cancer Research at the MRC, said:

These types of brain tumours are not only the most common but also the most difficult to treat. The MRC’s investment in high quality brain tumour research is advancing our knowledge of how the disease works and could help in the search for a more effective treatment.

The team plan to test whether this protein plays a role in the spread of other types of brain tumours, with the aim of developing a treatment that can go to human trials.

 

Source:

Article: EphrinB2 drives perivascular invasion and proliferation of glioblastoma stem-like cells, Benjamin Krusche Cristina Ottone Melanie P Clements Ewan R Johnstone Katrin Goetsch Huang Lieven Silvia G Mota Poonam Singh Sanjay Khadayate Azhaar Ashraf Timothy Davies Steven M Pollard Vincenzo De Paola Federico Roncaroli Jorge Martinez-Torrecuadrada Paul Bertone Simona Parrinello, eLife, doi: 10.7554/eLife.14845, published 28 June 2016.

 

 

May is International Brain Cancer Awareness Month


ribbon_gray_brain_cancer03May is International Brain Cancer Awareness Month, but what does that really mean? Do YOU know anything about Brain Cancer? Do YOU know what happens to a Child with Brain Cancer? Have you got ANY idea of what a Child with Brain Cancer experiences, or what their parents go through as they watch their offspring battle Brain Cancer?

Children should be able to be children – to run around and play without care, and to learn as they grow, both at school and through learning via socialising, play and good parenting. When a child gets brain cancer, most of this goes out of the window, as the tumour grows and affects the areas of the brain that control speech, sight, balance, personality/emotions, language, understanding, and sensation.

It is heart-breaking for any parent to watch their child lose all that they have learned to do as they grew and going backwards day by day in everything that makes them who they are. It is difficult to deal with a child who has mood swings and goes from being an angelic youngster to being a total rebel who has become uncontrollable; to care for a child who has become a little adult and to watch them going back to being a helpless infant who cannot dress themselves, feed themselves, control their bladder, keep themselves entertained; and who doesn’t understand what is going on… Read the rest of this entry

New Drug May Overcome Treatment Resistance in Childhood Neuroblastoma


cancerPediatric oncologists from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have reported their latest results in devising new treatments for stubbornly deadly forms of the childhood cancer neuroblastoma.

Building on their experience in treating some refractory subtypes of neuroblastoma with the anti-cancer drug crizotinib, the researchers have identified a powerful new drug with “unparalleled” strength against forms of the cancer that resist crizotinib.

Our preclinical results provide a strong rationale for fast-tracking this drug into clinical trials in children with neuroblastoma,” said study leader Yael P. Mossé, M.D., a pediatric oncologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “We expect to begin a clinical trial early this year.”

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