Kids’ cancer research is looking into the future to ensure not just survival, but a healthy, happy life. Lauren Ha’s work in exercise oncology hopes to decrease the late effects of treatment by promoting the importance of physical activity in survivors.
When kids are diagnosed with cancer, they are often exposed to harsh treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgeries. Such treatments at a young age not only affect growth and development, but also typically increase the survivors’ risks of suffering future chronic health conditions.
“When a child is cured of cancer it’s absolutely fantastic,” says Lauren. “But a lot of people don’t realise that the child is still likely to go through a lot of health problems beyond cancer.”
Lauren is an accredited exercise physiologist, and a PhD candidate in the School of Health Sciences, UNSW Medicine & Health, and at the Behavioural Sciences Unit at the Kids Cancer Centre. Her research interests surround exercise oncology and public health.
“There are about 800 to 1,000 children diagnosed with cancer each year. Over 80 per cent of them will survive the disease. But they go on to have up to 15 times higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to their peers.”