Movies could replace anaesthetic for child radiotherapy

Children with cancer could be spared dozens of doses of general anaesthesia by projecting a video directly on to the inside of a radiotherapy machine during treatment | OnMedica

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The new research was presented this week at the ESTRO 36 conference (European Society for Radiotherapy & Oncology), taking place in Vienna, Austria.

Catia Aguas, a radiation therapist and dosimetrist at the Cliniques Universitaires Saint Luc, Brussels, Belgium, told the conference that using video instead of general anaesthesia is less traumatic for children and their families, as well as making each treatment quicker and more cost effective.

The study included 12 children aged between one and a half and six years old who were treated with radiotherapy using a Tomotherapy® treatment unit at the university hospital. Six were treated before a video projector was installed in 2014 and six were treated after.

Before the video was available, general anaesthesia was needed for 83% of children’s treatments. Once the projector was installed, anaesthesia was only needed in 33% of treatments.

Read the full commentary here

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Behavioral, Social, and Emotional Symptom Comorbidities and Profiles in Adolescent Survivors of Childhood Cancer

Brinkman, T.M. et al. (2016) Journal of Clinical Oncology. 34(28) pp. 3417-342

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Purpose: In the general population, psychological symptoms frequently co-occur; however, profiles of symptom comorbidities have not been examined among adolescent survivors of childhood cancer.

Patients and Methods: Parents of 3,893 5-year survivors of childhood cancer who were treated between 1970 and 1999 and who were assessed in adolescence (age 12 to 17 years) completed the Behavior Problems Index. Age- and sex-standardizedz scores were calculated for symptom domains by using the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study sibling cohort. Latent profile analysis identified profiles of comorbid symptoms, and multivariable multinomial logistic regression modeling examined associations between cancer treatment exposures and physical late effects and identified symptom profiles. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% CIs for latent class membership were estimated and analyses were stratified by cranial radiation therapy (CRT; CRT or no CRT).

Results: Four symptoms profiles were identified: no significant symptoms (CRT, 63%; no CRT, 70%); elevated anxiety and/or depression, social withdrawal, and attention problems (internalizing; CRT, 31%; no CRT, 16%); elevated headstrong behavior and attention problems (externalizing; CRT, no observed; no CRT, 9%); and elevated internalizing and externalizing symptoms (global symptoms; CRT, 6%; no CRT, 5%). Treatment with ≥ 30 Gy CRT conferred greater risk of internalizing (OR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.0 to 2.8) and global symptoms (OR, 3.2; 95% CI, 1.2 to 8.4). Among the no CRT group, corticosteroid treatment was associated with externalizing symptoms (OR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.2 to 2.8) and ≥ 4.3 g/m2 intravenous methotrexate exposure was associated with global symptoms (OR, 1.5; 95% CI, 0.9 to 2.4). Treatment late effects, including obesity, cancer-related pain, and sensory impairments, were significantly associated with increased risk of comorbid symptoms.

Conclusion: Behavioral, emotional, and social symptoms frequently co-occur in adolescent survivors of childhood cancer and are associated with treatment exposures and physical late effects. Assessment and consideration of symptom profiles are essential for directing appropriate mental health treatment for adolescent survivors.

Read the abstract here

Low rates of pregnancy screening in adolescents before teratogenic exposures in a national sample of children’s hospitals

Rao, P. et al. Cancer. Published online: 12 September 2016

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Background: Adolescents with cancer engage in sexual behaviors and are exposed to teratogenic chemotherapy. There are no data regarding pregnancy screening patterns for adolescents before chemotherapy exposure.

Methods:A cross-sectional study of leukemia and emergency room (ER) admissions in the Pediatric Health Information System from 1999 to 2011 was conducted. Females who were 10 to 18 years old and 1) had newly diagnosed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) or acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or 2) had ER visits with computed tomography (CT) of the abdomen/pelvis were included. The exposure was a hospital visit with either chemotherapy or an abdominal/pelvic CT scan. The main outcome was a pregnancy test billed on the same day or before the teratogenic exposure within the same index admission. Log-binomial regressions were used to compute prevalence ratios and 95% confidence intervals comparing pregnancy screening in the leukemia and ER cohorts.

Results: A total of 35,650 admissions were identified. The proportion of visits with an appropriately timed pregnancy test was 35%, 64%, and 58% in the ALL (n = 889), AML (n = 127), and ER cohorts (n = 34,634), respectively. Patients with ALL were significantly less likely to have a pregnancy test than the ER cohort (adjusted prevalence ratio, 0.71; 95% confidence interval, 0.65-0.78), but there was no significant difference between the AML and ER cohorts (adjusted prevalence ratio, 1.12; 95% confidence interval, 0.99-1.27). There was substantial hospital-level variation in pregnancy screening patterns.

Conclusions: Adolescents with acute leukemia and ER visits have low rates of pregnancy screening before teratogenic exposures. Standardized practice guidelines for pregnancy screening among adolescents may improve screening rates.

Read the abstract here

Respiratory Viral Infections and Coinfections in Children With Cancer, Fever and Neutropenia

Torres, J.P. et al. (2016). Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal. 35(9). pp. 949–954

colorized-transmission-electron-micrograph-of-avian-influenza-a-h5n1-viruses-seen-in-gold-grown-in-mdck-cells-660x544Background: Respiratory viral infections in episodes of fever and neutropenia (FN) in children with cancer are not well characterized. We compared the clinical outcome of infections caused by different respiratory viruses (RVs) and by RV coinfection in this population.

Methods: Children with cancer and FN at 3 hospitals in Chile were prospectively evaluated by clinical examination, blood cultures and detection of 17 RVs using multiplex polymerase chain reaction (nasopharyngeal samples). Clinical characterization and outcome variables were determined and compared by the type of RV detected.

Results: A total of 1044 episodes of FN in 525 children were included. At least 1 RV was detected in 46%. In 350 of 1044 (34%) episodes, we detected only RVs, of which 284 (81%) were classified as a single-RV infection and 66 (19%) as a viral coinfection. Respiratory symptoms were present at admission in 65% of the episodes with any detected RV. Median age was 6 years (interquartile range, 3–10), and 51% were women. The most common RVs detected were rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza, influenza, adenovirus and human metapneumovirus. Episodes caused by different types of RVs had no differences in the clinical outcome (days of hospitalization, days of fever, O2 requirement, admission to the intensive care unit and death) and when comparing single and viral coinfection.

Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the largest report comparing clinical outcome in FN episodes caused by different RVs in children with cancer. A positive polymerase chain reaction for RV at admission was significantly associated with the presence of respiratory symptoms. Our data showed a favorable outcome in all episodes with RV detection, including single and viral coinfections.

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‘We urgently need kinder treatments for children’ – Noemi and Zofeya’s story

Cancer Research UK. Published online: 25 July 2016

When she was 4 years old, Zofeya was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a type of brain tumour. Now 7, Zofeya lives with her parents Noemi and Matthew, and brother Malacai, in Bedfordshire.

Here, Noemi shares her daughter’s story – one of several that feature in the CRUK Annual Review, which highlights the progress we’ve made this year.

Read the full blog post here