Boyne Research Institute | Cancer Research

Cancer Research

Cancer diagnosed during childhood can be a life-threatening emergency, and is a time of great stress and worry for the family. But the good news is that, because of improvements in treatment for cancer, most children who are diagnosed with cancer in the twenty-first century will survive for at least for five years, and are likely to live long and productive lives.

While most children who survive to five years can be considered cured of their original cancer, they may still face difficulties due mainly to side-effects of their treatment.

Apart from immediate side-effects (which may include such events as hair loss), treatment for cancer can also result in "late effects", that is, long-term consequences of the original cancer and its therapy, which could be unsuspected or undetectable during treatment. These may include learning difficulties or growth problems if treatment has included radiation to the brain, fertility issues if treatment has included radiation to the pelvis, or some types of chemotherapy, heart problems if treatment included some types of chemotherapy or chest radiation, and others types of late effects.

Because of this concern for the potential for late effects, there have been a number of studies designed specifically to investigate many areas of possible problems with functioning for childhood cancer survivors.

The purpose of these studies is to shed light on ways in which normal functioning can be negatively affected by environmental agents, such as those used in cancer treatment, to provide feedback to the treating community that will lead to development of new types of therapy with fewer late effects, to develop ways to detect and to prevent late effects, and to provide the survivor and family with information that will help them protect their own health.

The first long-term follow-up study of childhood cancer survivors was the Five-Center Study of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of NIH (the National Institutes of Health, USA).

Because the Five-Center Study did not include many survivors of leukemia during childhood, a second retrospective cohort study was undertaken by NCI, the Leukemia Follow-Up Study.

The Childhood Cancer Survivor Study was the third retrospective cohort study of childhood cancer survivors undertaken in the United States. Results from the Five-Center Study raised sufficient concerns for the health and well-being of childhood cancer survivors that a larger study with both retrospective and prospective components was commenced.

In Britain, the British Childhood Cancer Survivor Study was established to determine the risks of adverse health and social outcomes among survivors. This article describes the study in detail.

In Europe, the Boyne Research Institute is a member of PanCare which aims to ensure that every European survivor of childhood and adolescent cancer receives optimal long-term care. Through PanCare, the Boyne Research Institute is part of a 16-member consortium involved in a five-year study called PanCareSurFup - PanCare Childhood and Adolescent Cancer Survivor Care and Follow-Up Studies, which is researching the late effects of cancer treatments, establishing guidelines, disseminating the results and providing training for stakeholders.

Click here to find out more about PanCare and PanCareSurFup.

Detailed below are some useful links from Ireland, Europe and the USA in relation to survivorship, support groups and information regarding late effects.

Support Groups for Families, Children and Teenagers:

Useful Irish Websites:
Useful UK & European Websites:
Useful Websites in the USA: