Chemotherapy Helps Extend the Lives of Children

Researchers found that after low-dose maintenance chemo was added to the initial treatment of the rare type of cancer for six months, the survival rate of children with this condition increased from 74% to 87%.

Essentially, these children with rhabdomyosarcoma are cured since the possibilities of cancer recurring is significantly low.

Dr. Gianni Bisogno, a professor at University Hospital of Padova in Italy and one of the study’s lead authors said that this is the method that they have been using over the years to treat rare cancer. “Even though a number of procedures have been used before, this is the first clinical trial that has shown promising results,” added Bisogno.

These findings were released in news from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and are set to be presented in Chicago at ASCO’s annual meeting.

When existing drugs are used in new ways, a new care standard is created that might be the key to helping children and young adults live longer with a lower probability of the cancer returning, said Bisogno.

Development of Rhabdomyosarcoma

The development of rhabdomyosarcoma begins in the muscles and can impact any part of your body.

The most common areas it’s found include the pelvis, neck, head, and abdomen. About 4% of cancers in children are associated with rhabdomyosarcoma with the United States diagnosing an average of 350 children per year.

80% of these children are normally cured with surgery, radiation and high-dose chemotherapy. Sadly, when the cancer is vastly developed, only 20 to 30 percent of the affected children are cured.

How the Study was done

To conduct this study, Bisogno and colleagues involved 371 children who were randomly assigned as either no further treatment once the initial treatment was over or additional six months of chemo after initial treatment. The additional months were marked with low doses of chemotherapy drugs.

After 5 years, those treated with extended chemo had a 78% increased survival rate. The side effects for those on extended chemo were mild, with most of them getting low blood cell count. Some other side effects included a low fever and neurological impacts that disappeared at the end of the treatment. There is still a possibility of long-term effects and the patients are still under observation to identify this.

Since the results from this study will be presented at a medical meeting, all the findings are still preliminary until they get published in a peer-reviewed journal.

However, all we can say now is that the future looks brighter for the young ones with this type of rare cancer.