Harsh reality: Toxicity of treatment

Harsh reality: Toxicity of treatment Chemotherapy leaves many childhood cancer survivors with lifelong nerve issues.

An Australian study of 121 childhood cancer survivors who underwent various forms of chemotherapy has found many suffer from peripheral neuropathy in the long term.

Peripheral neuropathy refers to damage of the nerves that carry signals between the brain, spinal cord and the rest of the body.
Findings of the study published in JAMA Neurology in August 2018 stated that symptoms reported by the survivors included numb lower limbs, a loss of dexterity in the hands, and difficulties with balance.
The group of scientists from The University of New South Wales and The University of Sydney set out to discover the disease burden and functional effect of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy in childhood cancer survivors.
Their abstract highlighted the importance of this research in light of the new era of excellent long-term survival of childhood cancer patients. The team urge the urgent and ongoing screening for factors affecting health, function, and quality of life in long-term survivors post treatment.

Read more: Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy in Long-term Survivors of Childhood Cancer.

Objective of the research  

To comprehensively assess chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy in survivors of childhood cancer to define disease burden and functional effect and to inform screening recommendations.

Key findings from the study

The study discovered that the long-term deficits in clinical, electrophysiological, and functional measures of peripheral neuropathy were common. Further, that the concurrent deficits in patient-reported outcome measures suggested a significant effect. They also found that Cisplatin, a chemotherapy drug that is used to treat a number of cancers, has a greater neurotoxicity profile than vinca alkaloids, a sub-set of drugs obtained from the Madagascar periwinkle plant found to be important cancer fighters.

Research conclusion

Clinical abnormalities attributable to peripheral neuropathy were common in childhood cancer survivors and persisted long term, with concurrent deficits in patient-reported outcomes.
Both the type of neurotoxic agent and a targeted clinical neurological assessment are important considerations when screening survivors for long-term neuropathy.
Further development of peripheral neuropathy–specific paediatric assessment tools will aid research into neuroprotective and rehabilitative strategies.

Science. Solutions. Survival.

The Kids’ Cancer Project vision is for one hundred percent survival of children with cancer while eradicating the harmful impacts treatment can bring. It’s findings from research studies like this that make the charity’s mission all the more imperative.

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