Czechs lead research to help treat children with leukaemia


31.01.2014 16:31

Prague - Czech doctors have led an international research to increase the chances of children suffering from acute leukaemia, the results of which were published in the prestigious U.S. Journal of Clinical Oncology and presented by its coordinator Professor Jan Stary in Prague today.


Pacient na dětské hematologii a onkologii Fakultní nemocnice Motol čeká na transplantaci kostní dřeně, kterou podstoupil 27. února. Šestnáctiletý chlapec z Česka byl 500. pacientem, kterému pomohl Český národní registr dárců kostní dřeně. ČTK ČTK

The study monitored 5,060 children treated in 130 centres in 15 countries of three continents, including 291 kids from the 10.5-million Czech Republic.

The research was carried out in 2002-2007 and the patients were monitored afterwards.

"In the assessment of five years following the break-out of the disease it has been confirmed that the lives of 82 percent of children were saved. By optimising the treatment, we have increased the chance of being cured for a crushing majority of small patients," said Stary, head of the child haematology and oncology clinic of the 2nd Faculty of Medicine of Charles University and the Prague-Motol Teaching Hospital.

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is the most frequent child cancer type in advanced countries. Some 70 children are diagnosed with it the Czech Republic a year.

It was a 100-percent fatal disease 50 years ago. The first cured child with it was diagnosed at the Prague Motol hospital in 1969. In the 1980s, 20 percent of children were cured.

Now this share has increased up to 89 percent thanks to the use of the researchs results. The disease may recur in some cases, but the final result should not drop under 85 percent.

"On the basis of the study´s results we have changed the diagnostics of child leukaemia and the assessment of early response to the treatment. Consequently, the child will receive a more tailor-made treatment than to date," Stary said.

The treatment of child leukaemia is complex, lengthy and accompanied by a number of acute, life-threatening side effects. Besides, the disease may recur in 20 percent of cases and additional treatment, including bone marrow transplant, is then needed.

In the past 30 years, no new medicine to treat child leukaemia has been introduced and doctors have made some progress in the treatment only by the modification of dosage and treatment schemes.

The recent intercontinental study has enabled to monitor large groups of patients from various countries.

Child leukaemia is commonly treated by chemotherapy. The treatment protocol is divided into four phases that differ on the basis of the intensity of treatment and the composition of medicines.

The study has proves that it is not necessary to intensify the treatment in the third phase in the case of all patients since the expected effect is not always reached, but it should be applied only to those patients assessed as high risk groups according to diagnostic tests.

The study divides child patients into groups according to the risk level, which enables to apply an optimal treatment.

Along with the Czech Republic, Argentina, Chile, Croatia, Cuba Hong Kong, Hungary, Israel, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Uruguay, and a centre in Moscow have taken part in the study.

Stary appreciated the fact that thanks to the study other countries, for instance, Serbia, Ukraine and Latin American countries, had started using the latest treatment protocols.

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