More Hospitals Tailor Cancer Care to Teens and Young Adults

UCLA Teen Cancer Program(Wall Street Journal Online) – April 28, 2014: New treatments and earlier detection have led to steady gains in cancer survival for children and adults. But survival rates for teens and young adults with some types of cancer have barely budged in 30 years.

A push is on for better care and better outcomes for patients in what the National Cancer Institute calls a “no man’s land” between pediatric and adult oncology. At present, adolescents and young adults may be treated in adult units or in children’s wards – which both are places they are likely to feel isolated and distressed.

More hospitals are adding dedicated teen and young adult cancer units based on a model developed by the Teenage Cancer Trust in the U.K. It teams medical oncologists, pediatric specialists, therapists and social workers to offer an integrative approach to medical treatment, emotional issues, fertility counseling and clinical trials.

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New Young Investigator Program Podcast Available!

 

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Hear how Alex Kentsis is studying the biology of rhabdoid tumors

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Clinical Trials Advancement Awards Applications Now Available!

CureSearch is providing up to $1.5 million to support Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III clinical trials taking place at hospitals across the United States which show promise in making a difference for children with cancer, today.

Clinical TrialsThrough the Clinical Trials Advancement Awards, funds are available to all qualified hospitals that apply for funding and will help accelerate the delivery of new therapies to children with cancer.

The online, rolling application is available at proposalcentral.altum.com. Hospitals can begin applying for funding now and award notices will be distributed in December, 2014.

  • Awards range from $5,000 to $40,000 and are determined based on a set criteria set forth in the grant application. The criteria balance enrollments in trials with hospital involvement in the CureSearch Walk or Ultimate Hike.

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Oklahoma Soldier and Her Daughter Use Fitness to Fight Children’s Cancer

Stephanie Foster and Jessica Cousins (GX Online) – April 11, 2014: Sergeant Stephanie Foster is usually the first to know.

A member of the Oklahoma National Guard’s 120th Medical Company, she works in her civilian life as a laboratory technician in pediatric oncology. Her job is to locate cancer cells in children. After drawing a young patient’s blood, she peers through a microscope at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, looking for evidence she desperately hopes not to find.

But find it she does – far too often: malevolent cancer cells lurking amid healthy ones. That’s when she knows that a family is about to begin a life-and-death battle. Foster forms relationships with her young patients and their loved ones, even though doing so risks a broken heart each time. “It’s totally worth it,” she says. “The way they touch your life, it’s amazing. They’re so strong – stronger than the strongest Soldier out there.”

Strong enough to inspire Foster, a fitness instructor and versatile athlete, to push her physical limits to raise money and awareness on their behalf. She has previously entered walking events to raise money for cancer research. But nothing quite like what she’s about to try. She says it’s the least she can do, after what she’s received from them.

All of her patients touch her heart.

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Researcher to Study Bone Fractures in Pediatric and Adolescent Cancer Survivors

Research Update as of April 17, 2014:

Researchers and physicians know that children who undergo cancer treatment are at risk for decreased bone mineral density because many cancer treatments negatively affect bone health. It is particularly important that children and adolescents develop strong bone density because bone strength decreases in adulthood. Despite this knowledge, little is known about the rate at which fractures actually occur in survivors of childhood cancer and if they can be prevented.

Lynda Vrooman, MD, MMSc of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is a CureSearch Young Investigator interested in better defining the risks and long-term consequences of fracture in survivors of childhood cancer, and in intervening to minimize long-term complications. During her first year of research, Dr. Vrooman completed enrollment of 193 patients in a study of reported bone fracture. Her findings demonstrate that approximately 25% of cancer survivors experienced at least one fracture after cancer treatment. Of those with fracture, 35% experienced more than one fracture after treatment. In addition, survivors treated with corticosteroids, commonly used in the treatment of many types of children’s cancer, experienced significantly higher rates of fracture after cancer treatment. These results highlight the importance of minimizing the bony complications associated with corticosteroids and suggest that a treatment-associated fracture risk may extend beyond cancer therapy completion.

In the next year of her work, Dr. Vrooman will conduct detailed bone density testing in childhood cancer survivors with a history of fracture. Dr. Vrooman anticipates that this work will inform future interventional studies aimed at decreasing skeletal toxicity in survivors of childhood cancer.

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Meet the Children: Ashley and Samantha Housel

Life was hectic yet wonderful for the Housel family when identical twins Ashley and Samantha arrived in 2010. It became even more hectic when, shockingly, both twins were diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML)in December, 2013.

Their cancer journey began when Ashley complained of leg pain. Upon examination, her mom, Monique, saw that the leg was swollen with a small spot on it from which veins were radiating. Monique brought Ashley to the pediatrician who first performed an ultrasound to make sure Ashley’s arteries weren’t blocked. The test was normal, so another ultra sound was performed. It showed that her kidneys were full of fluid. Because this was not normal, Ashley was sent to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida where a CT scan was performed. The results showed a mass in her abdomen.

Ashley spent two weeks in the hospital undergoing more tests. Eventually, a stent was implanted to help relieve the pressure on her kidneys and a biopsy of the mass was performed.

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Researcher Examines Impact of Extra Chromosome on Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Research Update as of April 17, 2014:

David Gordon, MD, PhD at Dana Farber Cancer Institute is a CureSearch Young Investigator examining the impact of trisomy 8 on acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Of the 500 children diagnosed with AML each year, between 10-20% of an extra chromosome 8, called trisomy 8.

Dr. Gordon suspects that trisomy 8 contributes to the creation of cancerous cells because certain genes are expressed when an abnormal number of chromosomes are present. Using three cell lines he previously developed, Dr. Gordon spent the first year of his CureSearch grant screening the cell lines for new AML target genes and investigating the impact of trisomy 8 in blood cell development.

In the coming year, Dr. Gordon will explore how these genes, and their interaction with trisomy 8, lead to the development of AML.

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