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 Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union

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: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Computer model predicts how fracturing metallic glass releases energy at the atomic level

20.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Relax, just break it

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>