Page last updated at 15:06 GMT, Thursday, 21 May 2009 16:06 UK

Eight-year-old 'has ovary cancer'

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Sophie Fry is one of the youngest in the country to develop the disease

An eight-year-old girl is fighting a rare form of ovarian cancer.

Sophie Fry, from Driffield, East Yorkshire was diagnosed with the germ cell cancer earlier this year and had surgery to remove one of her ovaries.

She is still undergoing treatment - although doctors at St James' Hospital, Leeds say she is expected to make a full recovery.

Germ cell cancers are different to adult ovarian cancers, which most commonly affect women aged over 50.

Sophie had been suffering from severe abdominal pains.

Cancers found in the ovaries of young children, called ovarian germ cell tumours, are a quite distinct disease from adult ovarian cancer
Professor Hani Gabra, Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre

Her mother Heidi, 33, told the BBC: "She had started vomiting and was doubled-over."

Doctors initially thought she had a urine infection but after an ultrasound scan at Scarborough General Hospital Heidi, 33 and Sophie's father Gavin, 32, discovered she had a tumour.

Heidi first heard the news when she overheard staff talking in the ultrasound department.

It was losing her hair that has really worried Sophie.

She said: "I was very upset when Grandma was speaking to me about it".

'Perky'

Dr Bob Phillips, the specialist who treated Sophie at St James', said: "Sophie has responded very well to chemotherapy.

"She's been through some tough times and was very ill when she first came to hospital.

"But she is now very perky and she is skipping down the ward."

Dr Phillips said Sophie would still be able to have children when she is older, as her remaining ovary will compensate for the one that was removed meaning she will ovulate and have periods as normal.

She is one of the youngest children in the UK to have this kind of cancer.

Latest figures show four girls aged nine and under were diagnosed with ovarian cancers in 2005, and experts say these were likely to be germ cell cancers.

Professor Hani Gabra, director of the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre, said:"Cancers found in the ovaries of young children, called ovarian germ cell tumours, are a quite distinct disease from adult ovarian cancer, which most commonly affects women aged 50 and over.

"Germ cell tumours in children are thankfully rare and treatment is usually effective, with more than four out of five children who develop the disease surviving.

"Nonetheless, this will naturally be an extremely worrying time for the child affected and their family, and our thoughts are with them."

He added: "Very little is currently understood about the causes of ovarian cancer, which is why more investment in researching the disease is vital."



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