Newsletter Signup x

Why do increasing numbers of second cancers occur within five years of diagnosis of childhood cancer?

The dramatically increased survival rates for childhood cancer in recent decades, achieved largely through the use of increasingly intensive treatment, have been paralleled by an increased risk of developing a second cancer. The team is studying the occurrence of second cancer in children diagnosed over the last two decades in order to establish what factors influence risk.

Project Progress...

scientist hands

Project Details

  • Project Title

    Why do increasing numbers of second cancers occur within five years of diagnosis of childhood cancer?

  • Lead Researcher

    Charles Stiller

  • Research Centre

    University of Oxford

  • City & Institution Postcode

    Oxford, OX1 3BD

  • Start Date

    1 December 2011

  • Duration

    2 years

  • Grant Amount

    £71,585

Make a regular gift today!

Your donation helps save young lives!

Read more

Neuroblastoma

Information about neuroblastoma

Neuroblastoma is the second most common solid tumour in childhood, affecting just under 100 children a year in ...

Read more

Patient Story – Bethan E

Meet Bethan - one of our hero patient stories


My daughter Bethan was diagnosed with primary (localised) Ewing’s sarcoma in her left humerus in 2012. I like ...

Read more

Overview

Fifty years ago, three quarters of children diagnosed with cancer died. Today, three quarters of children now survive.

This increased survival has come about largely through the use of increasingly intensive treatment which may include high doses of both chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Unfortunately, however, survivors of childhood cancer are at increased risk of developing a second cancer. This risk is at least partly due to the treatments used. Preliminary research shows that the proportion of children developing a second cancer almost doubled between children diagnosed in 1962-91 and children diagnosed in 1992-2006.

Charles Stiller and colleagues will study the occurrence of second cancers in this more recent group in order to establish what factors influence risk.

 

Background

Unfortunately, the intensive treatments which have proved so effective in increasing the survival rates for childhood cancer over recent decades can themselves cause serious problems for young patients.

One of the most serious of these problems is a risk of developing a second cancer.

It is well documented that survivors of childhood cancer are at increased risk of developing a second cancer. The risks of second cancers have been well studied in children diagnosed before 1992, but little research has been done into the risks faced by children diagnosed more recently.

This means that little information is available on second cancers in children receiving recently introduced forms of treatment or in children with cancers which had low survival prior to 1992.

In addition, past research has tended to focus on five year survivors of childhood cancer; and little attention has been paid to second cancers occurring within the first five years of survival.

Preliminary research shows that the proportion of children developing a second cancer almost doubled between children diagnosed in 1962-91 and children diagnosed in 1992-2006. We need to understand more about the specific risk factors.

Understanding the risk factors for second cancers

Charles Stiller, who is leading this research, is the Director of the National Registry of Childhood Tumours (NRCT).

The NRCT is the largest specialist childhood cancer registry in the world. It has virtually complete coverage of childhood cancer across the whole of the UK and, as part of the follow-up of survivors of childhood cancer, the NRCT is routinely informed of subsequent cancers diagnosed in survivors.

The team expects to study at least 220 children diagnosed with second cancers, at least half of whom will be patients whose first diagnosis was 1992 onwards. They will compare these children with childhood cancer survivors who have not been diagnosed with a second cancer.

The team will obtain detailed information from the children’s hospital records about the treatment received for the first cancer and look for differences between the two groups. They will also look for the presence of genetic syndromes and birth defects as well as differences in ethnicity and socio-economic status.

What difference will this project make?

This is a very important project that will help us to understand the risk of children developing second cancers in the early years after initial diagnosis of a childhood cancer.

Preliminary data suggests that the treatments given in more recent years may increase the risk of children developing second cancers; these risks may be reduced by altering the dose or type of chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Treatment for childhood cancer

 

Patient Story

Max was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in 1993, when he was four years old.
Tragically, two years later, Max was diagnosed with a second cancer, alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma.

He passed away when he was just eight years old on 22nd January 1997. Max’s mum, Gill, shares her story.

Max’s story

About the Research Team

Charles Stiller, Dr Michael Murphy, Anita Bayne, Nicole Diggens, Childhood Cancer Research Group, University of Oxford.

Newsletter icon

Know someone who might be interested in this article?

Email this page to a friend!

Developing new treatments for high-risk neuroblastoma

Related research- Dr Helen Bryant

Neuroblastoma has a ‘high-risk’ form which, despite using every treatment available, means that some children can’t be cured. ...

Read more

Learning why high-risk neuroblastoma resists treatment – to learn how to beat it

Related research- Dr Suzanne Turner

One of the hardest things about finding a cure for cancer is that many forms don’t respond well ...

Read more

We've got lots of fun events to choose from!

Fundraise for us today!
Read more