Around 100 children are diagnosed with a cancer called neuroblastoma each year in the UK
The first symptoms of neuroblastoma can be vague, so often the cancer has spread by the time it is diagnosed, meaning children then need immediate and intensive treatment.
Children’s chances of making a good recovery vary considerably. For some treatment often proves life-saving, but it has side effects. Children can experience nausea, tiredness and hair loss, as well as longer-term problems such as hearing loss, lowered fertility and heart problems. Sadly, for others treatment doesn’t always work - around a third of children lose their lives within five years of being diagnosed with neuroblastoma.
Action is currently funding two research projects into neuroblastoma, but much more research is needed.
Hope for young cancer patients
Helping children at greatest risk
Most children with low-risk neuroblastoma will be cured. Sadly, though, the outlook is not so good for children with high-risk neuroblastoma. For almost half treatment fails or the cancer comes back. And sadly, most of these children eventually lose their lives.
Helped by Action funding, Professor Deborah Tweddle at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University, aims to help those children who are at highest risk. Her work could lead to better ways to identify children whose cancer is most likely to come back after treatment, which could guide treatment decisions. It could also lead to more effective, personalised treatments that save more children’s lives.
This project has been jointly funded with Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.
Fighting high-risk neuroblastoma
Helping children’s immune systems to fight high-risk cancers
Professor John Anderson, of University College London’s Institute of Child Health, is developing a new treatment for children with high-risk neuroblastoma, which involves modifying a child’s own immune cells to combat their disease.
The approach, known as immunotherapy, has already been successfully used to fight leukaemia and lymphoma - and could spare children from the unpleasant side effects of existing treatments.
Professor Anderson says: “Our ultimate aim is to design a safe new treatment that not only destroys a child’s cancer but also prevents it returning, providing a cure for life.”
This is a joint project which is being funded by Action Medical Research, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity and Neuroblastoma UK.