New research shows lower educational outcomes for survivors of childhood cancer



    VANCOUVER, April 1 /CNW/ - New research funded by the Canadian Cancer
Society has discovered poor educational achievement and learning difficulties
for some childhood cancer survivors, especially those diagnosed with brain
tumours. This first-of-its-kind study published in the journal Cancer raises
critical questions about the long term outlook for children with cancer.
    "These are very significant findings," says Barbara Kaminsky, CEO
Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon. "It is not good enough to just improve
survival rates for these children. We need to ensure that as many childhood
cancer patients as possible become more than survivors - rather we hope to
have post-cancer thrivers."
    Advances in treatment have dramatically increased the survival rate to
over 80 per cent for children diagnosed with cancer. This has resulted in a
growing number of children in today's education system who are cancer
survivors. Unfortunately, many childhood cancer survivors suffer what are
known as "adverse late effects" - problems that may be related to the disease
itself or the aggressive treatments they have been through.
    With funding from the Canadian Cancer Society, this study is one of a
series of papers expected from Mary McBride, Senior Scientist at the BC Cancer
Agency and Primary Investigator for the Childhood Adolescent and Young Adult
Cancer Survivors Research program (CAYACS).
    Parents and teachers have reported educational difficulties among
survivors. Cancer survivors achieve lower levels of education, increased
utilization of special education services and are more likely to repeat a
grade level.
    There is considerable evidence of adverse late effects including lower
intelligence testing scores that may impact educational performance. A number
of factors that increase the risk of poorer educational outcomes include
diagnosis or treatment at a younger age, specific therapies and certain types
of treatment. Girls in particular, as well as children who received radiation
treatment, in particular, cranial radiation, seem to have an increased risk.
    The study looked at almost 800 young BC survivors, who had a primary
diagnosis of cancer at 15 years of age or younger and who had survived for
more than five years since diagnosis.
    This study is believed to be the first population-based research to use a
comprehensive set of standardized measures to examine educational late effects
of survivors of all childhood cancers. The findings have important
implications for survivors, their parents, clinicians and educators who need
to be aware of potential educational difficulties.
    Sharing information between these groups is fundamental in addressing the
transition to school. Regular monitoring of progress within the school system
is essential to proving appropriate management of this group.

    The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of
volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of
the quality of life of people living with cancer. It is the largest national
charitable funder of cancer research in Canada. Last year, the Society funded
close to $49.5 million in leading-edge research projects across the country.
To know more about cancer, visit the website at www.cancer.ca or call the
toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.





For further information:

For further information: Media contact: Kristine Carrick, Manager, Media
Relations, Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. and Yukon Division, T: (604)
675-7340, C: (604) 831-2598, E: kcarrick@bc.cancer.ca


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