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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 February 2008, 13:06 GMT
Increased chemo 'boosts survival'
More intensive chemotherapy can improve survival rates in young patients with a nervous system cancer, according to research at a Cambridgeshire hospital.

A 10-year-study at Addenbrooke's showed about 66% more children with high-risk neuroblastoma survived.

Neuroblastoma affects children, mostly aged under five, with about 35 deaths in the UK each year.

The results of the trial have led to the roll out of the more rapid chemotherapy method across Europe.

Neuroblastoma originates from the cells involved in the development of a baby's nervous tissue. The cells that it develops from are called neuroblasts.

Aggressive form

Addenbrooke's Hospital was one of 19 UK centres to take part in the research from 1990 to 1999.

The trial, coordinated in six countries by scientists from the Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group and funded by Cancer Research UK, studied the effects of administering chemotherapy every 10 rather than 21 days at 1.8 times the conventional dose on 262 children.

Neuroblastoma affects around 90 children each year in the UK and the high-risk type of the disease is one of the main causes of cancer-related deaths in children.

Researchers in the study treated children aged over one with high-risk, stage four neuroblastoma - the most aggressive form.

Professor Andy Pearson, lead author of the paper, said: "Our method of chemotherapy increases the survival rates for children with high risk neuroblastoma and is already saving the lives of many children.

"Using a higher dose and having chemotherapy with shorter breaks between each treatment means that fewer children will die from the disease each year."

He also paid tribute to the parents and children involved in the trial.

Kate Law, Cancer Research UK's director of clinical trials, said: "On the strength of the results of this trial, all children in Europe will receive a more effective treatment for this disease."

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