According to a long-term medical observation, medical advancements have helped many patients with leukemia recover. The rate of death associated with cancer in children and teens has dropped by 20 percent, between 1999 and 2014.
The report revealed a decline in leukemia deaths, and a steady figure for deaths from brain cancer.
According to the lead author of the analysis, Sally Curtin, this is a major moment, as it shows how medical advancement in oncology has helped cure a once universally deadly disease.
The death toll for brain cancer has exceeded the number of deaths from leukemia. This trend started to become visible in 2011. But in 2014, the difference between the two types of cancer was big enough to be called a real finding.
Leukemia used to be lethal for everyone who had it. In recent years, oncologists have made efforts in coming up with more effective chemotherapy, radiation, bone marrow transplants and treatments – according to Elizabeth Ward, from the American Cancer Society.
In contrast, brain cancers remain difficult to treat, Ward pointed out. This is because surgeons have to take care not to damage any healthy tissue and because the brain has a protective barrier (the blood-brain barrier) which prevents some drugs from performing their healing action on the brain.
Ann Kingston, from the National Brain Tumor Society, believes the death rates for brain cancer are not acceptable. According to Kingston, there are hopes that new, more targeted therapies will emerge and this will lead to progress.
Ward and Kingston also pointed out how cancer therapies generate cognitive and development problems for survivors. They want scientists to find ways to reduce the side effects of treatments.
Aside from brain cancer and leukemia, other common forms of cancer in younger patients involve bones, the thyroid or the endocrine glands and soft tissue.
The report was published in a time when experts are doing their best to fight cancer in children. The National Cancer Institute recently came forward with a proposal to research “fusion oncoproteins”, which are believed to be responsible for many childhood cancers. Experiments with these proteins could lead to clinical trials and access to new drugs for children.
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