The study which developed the revolutionary clinical guidelines was co-funded by The Kids’ Cancer Project, led by researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, and endorsed by the Australian and New Zealand Children’s Oncology Group.
The guidelines are the first of their kind and offer a standardised, international approach to preventing deadly heart complications in children undergoing radiotherapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and molecular therapy.
Despite the fact that more kids are surviving cancer than ever before, the long-term side effects of treatment can still be devastating. That’s why one of the key areas of research The Kids’ Cancer Project helps to fund is aimed at improving long-term outcomes for children after cancer treatment.
In fact, childhood cancer survivors are sadly 15 times more likely to have heart failure and eight times more likely to have heart disease than the general population, emphasising the urgent need for these guidelines.
There was already a defined approach in place to monitor poor heart health as a result of cancer treatment for adults, says Associate Professor Rachel Conyers of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, yet no such thing existed for children. She continues to say:
“Heart complications are a leading cause of death for childhood cancer survivors. Recent advances in treating childhood cancer have resulted in survival rates of more than 80 percent. However, improving serious health outcomes in survivors remains an important and essential focus – prevention is key.”
In practice, the guidelines will help children’s cancer doctors to define which childhood cancer patients are at the highest risk of developing cardiac diseases, as well as provide a framework for screening and regular heart check-ups. They represent a major advance in the field of children’s cancer and will be an indispensable tool for doctors all around the world, helping to significantly reduce the harmful impacts of cancer drugs on children’s hearts – ultimately, saving lives.
A huge thank you to everyone who has kindly donated to The Kids’ Cancer Project – your generosity is vital to making projects like this one a reality. With the ongoing support of people like you, we can continue funding invaluable and lifesaving research and help prevent children needlessly dying from cancer.