New Study Shows Children at Low Risk of Deadly Second Cancer

New Study Shows Children at Low Risk of Deadly Second Cancer

There is good news today for children with Hodgkin's disease and other malignant solid tumors. According to a study by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital released today in the British medical journal Lancet, these children have only a one in 100 chance of developing a second, far more deadly, type of cancer.

This secondary cancer, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), is a significant risk among adults with solid tumors. Approximately 1-0 percent of adults with Hodgkin's disease develop AML, and most of that group die from it.

"Of the 3,365 children and adolescents treated for malignant solid tumors at St. Jude between 1962 and 1988, only 12 developed AML as a result of their cancer therapy," said Dr. Ching-Hon Pul, a leading St. Jude researcher.

This study is very good news because the treatment outcomes for patients with secondary AML have been dismal, according to Dr. Pui. "Even if a complete remission from the leukemia can be induced, it seldom can be maintained, even with the most aggressive chemotherapy."

The solid tumors studied included Hodgkin's disease, non Hodgkin's lymphoma, neuroblastoma, brain tumors, Wilms' tumor, rhabdomyosarcoma, osteosarcoma, Ewing's sarcoma and others.

"The risk of developing AML was highest in those treated for Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and neuroblastoma," said Dr. Pui. "Only one of 180 patients with a brain tumor and none of the 1,878 patients with other malignancies have developed AML."

According to the St. Jude study, children with Hodgkin's disease were at greater risk than those with other solid tumors. And the risk was higher among those who developed Hodgkin's disease later in childhood. Six of 294 patients 12 years and older had AML, compared with none of the 153 younger patients.

Among children with Hodgkin's disease, those who had relapsed also were more likely to develop AML, as were those who received a class of chemotherapy drugs known as alkylating agents.

The solid tumor study follows St. Jude research on secondary AML in children with the most common form of childhood cancer, acute lymphocytic leukemia. That research found a significant risk of AML among children with acute lymphocytic leukemia, a disease that, otherwise, is highly curable.

St. Jude's solid tumor study was the first to review a large number of children with newly diagnosed solid tumors admitted consecutively to a single institution.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is one of the world's premier biomedical research centers dedicated to finding cures for catastrophic diseases of children. Its work is primarily supported through public contributions raised by American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC).

PNG Publications.

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