Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Effects of pediatric brain tumors and their treatment haunt survivors for years, study finds

19.08.2005


Children who survive brain cancer struggle for years with the malevolent echo of the disease and its treatment, according to a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. Nearly one-third of former brain tumor patients require special education services, and many suffer from chronic headaches, nausea and seizures. Only about half of those old enough to drive do so.



Those who received radiation to cure their cancers fared worse than those who had only surgery. Adding chemotherapy to radiation, a common therapeutic strategy, didn’t worsen the outcome. The finding, published in the Aug. 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, lends credence to an ongoing Stanford/Packard study in which lower doses of radiation are supplemented by additional rounds of chemotherapy to help reduce the cognitive and emotional problems that are the side effect of successful treatment.

"We’ve been very focused on curing brain cancer, which we now do in about 68 percent of the kids," said pediatric neurologist Paul Fisher, MD. "Now we’re asking, ’OK, but what are the kids like? We’re curing them, but at what cost?’"


The findings validate long-standing concerns about radiation in children’s developing brains. Although physicians have known that brain cancer - and the surgery and radiation used to treat it - can cause long-term physical, learning and emotional deficits, the study marks the first time anyone has directly compared the health-related quality of life of former patients to that of healthy children. The hope is that the simple survey will gain widespread use as a way of evaluating the effects of potential new treatments for the condition.

Fisher and his colleagues surveyed 134 former patients returning to Packard Children’s Hospital for routine follow-up visits. The survey, known as the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory 4.0, was previously validated as a reliable way to measure quality of life in children, but no one had used it in brain tumor patients.

"Parents often come into the clinic and ask us, ’What’s my child going to be like five and 10 years from now?’" said Fisher. "We’re always interested in improving their outcome, but until now we’ve not been able to assess what their life is really like years after their diagnosis. Do the older children have a checkbook? Can they manage money? We don’t know."

The survey asks children and their parents whether the kids have problems with common activities such as running or bathing themselves, if they have trouble sleeping or worry about their future, whether other children tease them and whether they have problems with their schoolwork. The researchers also asked a few additional questions about medications the children were taking; whether the children require special education services, hearing aids or glasses; and whether they could carry out normal daily activities, such as making breakfast, counting change and driving. Answering all the questions took about 20 minutes.

The patients’ median age was 11.3 years, and it had been about three years since their diagnoses. They had all types of brain tumors and various combinations of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. The researchers found that although children who had received radiation to combat their cancer had a poorer quality of life than those who had only surgery, adding chemotherapy to radiation therapy didn’t make things worse.

Children with more aggressive or larger tumors were more impaired overall. Alarmingly, the study suggested that as former brain tumor patients grow older, they become more aware of their differences and grow increasingly socially isolated.

"The longer it’s been since their diagnosis, the more reluctant the kids are to talk about it," said Fisher. "They know they’re not the same person they were before, and it’s very upsetting for them."

Although the study showed that radiation has the strongest effect on quality of life, there were not enough participants to compare low vs. high doses. The researchers will continue to amass data to compare outcomes in children with varying doses of radiation, as well as assessing the effect of the specific type and location of the tumor.

"Brain tumor patients tend to suffer a lot of cancer symptoms even after therapy," said Fisher. "They often still have headaches, pain and nausea. Even though they may have a normal lifespan, their symptoms don’t get better. But most people think, ’OK, they’re fine now. Everything should be back to normal.’"

Fisher and his colleagues hope the current study will propel the field to the discovery of newer, more effective but less damaging treatments of brain tumors. "This study is the first to demonstrate that it’s relatively easy and quick to assess a former patient’s quality of life during a normal clinic visit," he said. "We can get good data that can be used to improve treatment."

Fisher’s Stanford colleagues in the study include medical students Sundeep Bhat, Tress Goodwin and Meagan Lansdale; as well as faculty members Gary Dahl, MD; Stephen Huhn, MD; Iris Gibbs, MD; and Sarah Donaldson, MD.

Krista Conger | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.stanford.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>