Meet the Children: Easton Begoon

Easton-Web1In the Spring of 2011, Easton Begoon’s mom, Tara, noticed that Easton was sleeping a lot, running fevers, and seemed congested with trouble breathing. At his 2 year-old-appointment she voiced concern about bruising, but was told that he was just an active 2 year old boy that might be a little clumsy.

Fevers continued to pop up each week and the doctors ran some tests and put Easton on antibiotics for strep. His doctors thought that he would start feeling better over the weekend, but he didn’t get better. The next day he woke up with what she believed to be a rash, so Tara brought him back to the doctor. Once the doctor saw the “rash”, she ordered further testing. That “rash” was actually petechiae, or bruising under the skin due to extremely low platelets. Once the results were back, they were told that they had to go to the hospital immediately via ambulance.

When they got to the hospital, an oncologist told them the shocking news. Easton had leukemia. The oncologist told Tara that they had never seen someone with such low platelets or hemoglobin and such a high white blood cell count. They were amazed that Easton had made it through the weekend. Further testing revealed that Easton had a very rare form of leukemia called ETP ALL.

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Antipsychotic Drug Fights Cancer

(Oncology Nurse Advisor) – In a prime example of finding new uses for older drugs, studies in zebrafish show that a 50-year-old antipsychotic medication called perphenazine can actively combat the cells of a difficult-to-treat form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The drug works by turning on a cancer-suppressing enzyme called PP2A and causes malignant tumor cells to self-destruct.

The findings suggest that developing medications that activate PP2A, while avoiding the psychotropic effects of perphenazine, could help clinicians make much-needed headway against T-cell ALL (T-ALL), and perhaps other tumors as well.

The study was led by A. Thomas Look, MD, of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, and reported the in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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Childhood Cancer Survivors a Growing Patient Population

But many general practitioners aren’t prepared to deal with them, survey finds

HealthDay News- Improved treatment of childhood cancer has led to an unprecedented health care problem, with primary care physicians unprepared to care for the special medical needs of adult cancer survivors, researchers report.

A survey of internists — primary care doctors for adults — found that most physicians were not comfortable caring for adult survivors of childhood cancer.

Most also were unfamiliar with the special needs these patients have because of their cancer treatment, according to findings published Jan. 6 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

For example, only 12 percent of the internists surveyed felt at least “somewhat familiar” with health screening guidelines for childhood cancer survivors.

“These patients need special health care throughout their lifetime, focused on screening and prevention,” said co-author Dr. Tara Henderson, director of the Childhood Cancer Survivors Center at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital. “This tells us there’s a gap we need to address to improve the health of these patients.”

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Haven’s High Steppers High Step For Daughter

When Haven was diagnosed with Haven Anderson - Web2neuroblastoma in 2012, she was just 2 years old, and her family was shocked. The cancer was found in her adrenal gland and required 8 rounds ofchemotherapyradiation, MIBG therapy, and stem cell transplant. Haven is still recovering from the stem cell transplant, but is back at school and receives chemotherapy every three weeks. While she is doing well, her family knows that she still has a long road in front of her.

After Haven was diagnosed, her mother, Erin, knew that she wanted to do something to help other children like her daughter. They heard about the CureSearch Walk through their hospital, and the event seemed like the perfect fit. They joined the Rocky Mountain CureSearch Walk in 2012 and immersed themselves into fundraising.

They formed the team, Haven’s High Steppers, and recruited family and friends to help them raise essential funds for research. Erin tried to make fundraising fun, creating small competitions between her teammates. She and her friend Erik started a bet about who could raise the most. Erik won in 2012, but Erin beat him in 2013 and is hoping do so again this year.

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Researcher Examines the Body’s Immune System in Search of Treatments for Osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma is a primary bone cancer affecting approximately 400 children and adolescents in the United States each year. Current treatment for this cancer is usually extensive surgery followed by chemotherapy. Even with aggressive treatment, the survival rate is just 60-70%. Further, about 40% of patients with osteosarcoma experience metastatic (cancer that has spread) or recurrent disease. For these patients, the survival rates are even lower. New, more targeted approaches to treatment are needed to improve outcomes for patients with this cancer.

Recently awarded a Young Investigator grant by CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, Meenakshi Hegde, MD at Baylor College of Medicine is hoping her research on the body’s immune system, specifically T-cells, will lead to new treatment options. The job of the body’s immune system is to fight off disease, in this case, cancer. Thus, when an abnormal, or mutated, cell is created, the body should recognize it as different from the rest and eliminate it. When that doesn’t happen, diseases occur.

In osteosarcoma, the cancerous cells contain proteins that should not be present, causing the tumors to grow. Presence of these proteins varies from tumor to tumor and sometimes within a single tumor. Dr. Hegde hypothesizes that killing tumor cells using T-cells that recognize a single protein will result in the survival of tumor cells that do not express this protein leading to tumor recurrence after therapy. She plans to engineer T-cells, that are designed to target the two proteins most commonly expressed in osteosarcoma, with the goal of decreasing the risk of tumor recurrence.

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Late effects linked to poor quality of life in long-term childhood cancer survivors

Improved treatments and technologies are leading to more children than ever who survive cancer. Unfortunately, about 70% of these children experience late effects from their disease and treatment
30 years after their cancer diagnosis. These effects significantly impact their quality of life.

“The prevalence of these symptoms accounts for a huge variance in physical, mental, and social domains of quality of life among survivors,” said lead author I-Chan Huang, PhD, of the University of Florida Health College of Medicine in Gainesville. “If we think symptoms are the key to patients’ quality of life, then if we can better manage their symptoms, we can improve their daily functional status and quality of life.”

The study, which was conducted with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (2013; doi:10.1200/JCO.2012.47.8867), analyzed data from 1,667 childhood cancer survivors who participated in a St. Jude study looking at the long-term effects of cancer survival. The researchers used a patient-reported survey to measure quality of life. A specific symptom scale was designed to assess toxicities related to cancer treatment as outlined in the Children’s Oncology Group guidelines.

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Meet the Children: Luke Anderson

Meghan Anderson is an experienced oncology nurse. So, when her 2-year-old son, Luke, had a fever that wasn’t getting better with over-the-counter medication, she checked his stomach to see if it was something else. What she discovered surprised her. Luke had a mass in his abdomen.

She rushed Luke to Wilson’s Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida for testing and hoped that it wasn’t cancer. Later that day, her worst fears were confirmed. Luke had stage IV Wilms tumor.

The tumor was located on his vena cava, a larger vein responsible for carrying blood to the heart. The location of this tumor made his treatment more complex. Luke would need chemotherapyradiation, and surgery to remove the tumor. Luke started chemotherapy right away in hopes of shrinking the tumor to make removal easier. On October 30, 2008 Luke had surgery to remove part of the tumor, and luckily it was successful.

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