FOR PATIENTS, SURVIVORS AND FRIENDS
Psychological Difficulties Are a Risk for Children With Neuroblastoma, Study Finds
A study that compared 859 children treated for neuroblastoma to 872 siblings of childhood cancer survivors found higher rates of
psychological problems, such as anxiety and attention deficits, among the neuroblastoma survivors. These children were also more likely
to need special education services. Neuroblastoma—a childhood cancer of nerve cells—is diagnosed at a median age of 17. 3 months. This
is the largest study to look at neuroblastoma patients’ psychological and educational outcomes.
LEARN MORE IN THE AUGUS T 2018 CANCER.
Get research-backed advice for making
cancer care decisions through the University
of Michigan Health System’s health library.
Topics range from decision-making tools for
prostate cancer treatment and BRCA genetic
mutation screening to anxiety and distress
The Magic Tree app uses videos and games
to help kids ages 5-8 learn about breast cancer
and its treatments in age-appropriate ways.
The app, sponsored by Celgene, provides
discussion guides for parents along with family
Request help with daily tasks and
appointments, record notes from medical
appointments and track day-to-day health with
This is Living with Cancer, an app developed
by Pfizer. The app provides links to resources,
events and support groups, and allows users
to share information with their supporters.
Q: How does tumor genetics
A: To the uninitiated, chemotherapy
all seems the same. Fundamentally, all
chemotherapy works to some extent by
causing DNA damage. But when you
get down to the nitty-gritty, different
chemotherapy agents cause that DNA
damage in different ways. And the way
they create damage requires certain pathways to repair that damage—and that’s
different for different drugs. We know
very little about the makeup of these pathways. Learning about them could help us
understand why a patient may or may not
respond to a certain treatment.
Q: Is it possible that a chemotherapy
used solely for colorectal cancer might
be the best treatment for some other
types of cancers?
A: Absolutely. If you look at why we
use the chemotherapy that we use,
it has to do with the large trials that
were done that asked, on average, what
works better for this specific population. That has gotten us to the standard
of care. But this kind of one-size-fits-all
chemotherapy is not really up-to-date
with what we know about the genetics of cancer. If we can capitalize on
the genetics of the disease to know
what chemotherapy might be better for
which tumors, that could potentially
have an impact on cancer care.
Q: Is this testing available to patients now?
A: No. Our research is a starting point
for thinking about how tumor genetics
alters response to drugs. Our eventual
goal is to use this data along with other
data we have published to create a com-
putational platform for predicting drug
sensitivity. Then we would want to test
Q: How do you know that the cell
pathways activated in cells in your lab
would be the same as those in cancer
cells in people?
A: We have reason to believe there is a
substantial relationship between what
we see in a tissue culture dish and what
happens in people, in terms of survival
after chemotherapy as well as in the
molecular pathways that are activated
in tumors. In the context of DNA repair,
we are looking at a fundamental part of
cell survival and cell death, and you only
need the tumor cells to study that.
Q: Is it difficult to get funding for this
type of research because all of these
drugs are already approved?
A: Yes. Not only are they approved,
they are all off-patent. So, for the
majority of the chemotherapy drugs we
are studying, this is not something a
pharmaceutical company would fund.
The exception is the PARP inhibitors,
which are new. So, fundamentally, it
is really doing research for the public
good, not for profit.
Q: Is it fair to say your work could
potentially affect many people?
A: Because so many patients are given
chemotherapy, even a small, marginal
improvement in the way chemotherapy
is delivered could have a massive
impact. That is our hope. That’s what
motivates us. —SUE ROCHMAN