The (relatively) good news: With today’s treatments, children who get cancer are surviving longer then ever before. According to the National Cancer Institute, the 5-year survival rates for all childhood cancers combined increased from about 58% in 1975–77 to 80% in 1996–2003.
The bad news: Many childhood cancer survivors face a variety of health problems throughout their lives.
A new analysis of childhood cancer survivors highlights the medical problems and other health challenges these children face as adults. The study is published in the current issue of Cancer; you can read the abstract here.
In the study, researchers drew upon data from a National Health Interview Survey that included 410 adult survivors of childhood cancer and almost 300,000 people without cancer. The study found that childhood survivors were more likely than other adults to say their health is only fair or poor (24% compared to 11%), more likely to be unable to work because of medical problems (21% compared to 6%) and more likely to be limited by their health in terms of the work they could do (31% compared to 11%).
Lately, there’s been a lot of work investigating how lifestyle choices can play a role in helping childhood cancer survivors. One study, funded by AICR, is looking at how certain foods may influence the effect of common treatment for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Other studies are looking at the benefits of physical activity, both during and after treatment.
One of the big challenges in cancer treatment is resistance, when cells never react or stop reacting to a chemotherapy drug’s lethal effects. For ovarian cancer, resistance can occur with the commonly-used drug cisplatin.
The phytochemicals found in plant foods may help, a new study suggests. The study is preliminary, conducted on cancer cells, yet it suggests that a phytochemical called kaempferol may help this ovarian treatment be more effective.
Kaempferol is a flavonoid, one of the largest groups of phytochemicals and studied previously for its role in protecting against cancer. It’s found in many plant-foods, including berries, tea, and broccoli.
An intriguing AICR-funded study on flaxseed and ovarian cancer is making news today. The study investigated how a flaxseed-enriched diet would effect ovarian cancer development in hens. Although the study was conducted in animals, it will hopefully lead to research that will help ovarian cancer survivors.
Why hens? Hens are the only other animals besides humans known to spontaneously develop ovarian cancer, and at a relatively high rate. That makes hens a strong model to study ovarian cancer, a disease dubbed “the silent killer” because it is often not detected until the later stages.