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Monday, 3 December, 2001, 11:39 GMT
Child cancer survival rates rising
Chemotherapy treatment
New treatments are helping save the lives of thousands
Children being treated for cancer are not only surviving longer, but are coping with the emotional side-effects better, research shows.

Nine out of ten children who develop cancer will go on to survive into adulthood, Britain's two leading cancer charities said on Monday.

And research indicates children with leukaemia, the most common of childhood cancer, face up well to their disease, although the response is not so positive for other types of cancer.

It follows the publication of two long-term international cancer studies, which found that of 30,000 children who took part in an international survey, 90% were still alive up to 35 years later.


I think we can be confident that of the children who are successfully treated today, even more than 90% will survive into adulthood

Professor Gordon McVie, cancer expert
Commenting on the findings, Director General of the Cancer Research Campaign Professor Gordon McVie said: "This is great news for parents everywhere.

"It means when children are successfully treated for cancer, in the vast majority of cases they are completely cured.

"It's worth remembering that these were children diagnosed up to 35 years ago and we know that treatments have improved dramatically since then.

"I think we can be confident that of the children who are successfully treated today, even more than 90% will survive into adulthood."

Quality of life

The Cancer Research Campaign and Imperial Cancer Research Fund, have released the figures to mark the start of Children's Cancer Awareness Month, and follow last year's announcement that 70% of children with cancer are successfully treated.

However, they warn that although long-term survival figures are excellent, more still needs to be done to preserve the quality of life of young cancer patients.

Separate research carried out by the Cancer Research Campaign reveals current treatments with reduced side-effects have led to fewer psychological problems for children who survive cancer.

The Campaign's Professor Chris Eiser looked at the quality of life of children who had recovered from a variety of different cancers.

She found those who had survived acute lymphoblastic leukaemia did very well, with relatively few psychological problems.


In general our results are very encouraging, because they indicate that many children are able to live happy and fulfilling lives

Professor Chris Eiser, cancer expert
But children with other cancers often experienced a range of emotional difficulties.

Ms Eiser also studied survivors of bone cancer, many of whom had limbs amputated or reconstructed.

She found survivors were often frustrated by their lack of mobility and some felt their career opportunities had been limited by their disease.

Ms Eiser, who works at Sheffield University, said: "In general our results are very encouraging, because they indicate that many children are able to live happy and fulfilling lives.

"We need to be aware that some children have special difficulties because of their cancer or its treatment.

Improving their quality of life requires more consideration."

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