Childhood Cancer Can Be Overcome With A Double Stem Cell Transplant, According To Breakthrough New Study
There are few things more cruel in this world than a child with cancer. Granted, no one should have to suffer from the ravages of the disease, no matter what age they are. But to see a child struck down with cancer is especially horrifying, at least to anyone who has a heart.
But there is one particularly horrible type of cancer known as neuroblastoma that typically strikes children under the age of six which researchers have shown can be overcome in children receiving a double dose of stem cell transplants.
The study, co-authored by Dr. Lisa Diller of Boston Children’s Hospital showed that children suffering from neuroblastoma who receive double autologous stem cell transplants–the kind of transplant where stem cells are taken from a person and later transplanted back into that person–are more likely to survive.
And while stem cells have been used to battle this type of cancer for some time, this is the first study showing that a double transplant of stem cells is more efficacious than only receiving a single transplant.
The double stem cell transplant allows children to undergo a second round of chemotherapy instead of just one, which greatly increases their chances of survival. The research showed that 61 percent of the children with neuroblastoma who received a double stem cell transplant not only survived but were cancer-free three years after their initial diagnosis.
“Our ability to treat children with neuroblastoma has improved significantly over the past 25 years, particularly with the introduction of high-intensity chemotherapy regimens and stem-cell transplantation,” said Dr. Diller. “The findings of this study define a new standard for the treatment of this disease.”
Usually less than half of children who are diagnosed with neuroblastoma live to see their sixth year. And although there are only about 700 cases diagnosed annually in the United States, it is a nasty form of cancer that can leave a child disfigured, causing damage to the eyes and face. The tumor starts in nerve cells outside of the brain and if left unchecked all but guarantees a painful death.
And the treatment up to now that has been used to combat it–massive doses of chemotherapy–can be just as damaging to the tiny bodies of children damaging bone marrow and making it harder to regenerate new blood cells.
But when given a stem cell transplant, the children’s bodies can produce new blood cells, better equipping them to fight back.
Here’s hoping we can one day eliminate neuroblastoma as a deadly childhood cancer altogether, and this study may help lead the way.