Researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne have recently published the first-ever clinical guidelines to help prevent and address cardiac complications in pediatric cancer patients who are currently undergoing treatment. A growing body of research has revealed in recent years that pediatric cancer patients face a significant risk of developing additional medical complications later in life.
Some of the treatments used to address tumors, such as radiation therapy, can be quite damaging to healthy cells. Even grown adults suffer side effects such as anemia, appetite loss, fatigue, bruising, bleeding, and hair loss. For children, these treatments can disrupt the heart’s rhythm or even damage cardiac muscles, valves and the blood vessels that supply oxygenated blood to the heart. As a result, chemotherapy can sometimes cause cardiac issues such as arrhythmias and cardiomyopathy in pediatric cancer patients and survivors.
The new guidelines cover the assessment of cardiovascular diseases, screening and follow-up for children receiving cancer treatments including radiotherapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and novel molecular therapies. They also define pediatric cancer patients who are high risk and who require heart check-ups during treatment, detail a standard approach to screening patients for cardiac issues and surveil all through treatment, and issued recommendations to help physicians protect the hearts of vulnerable pediatric patients.
Associate professor Rachel Conyers from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute noted that while there are already existing guidelines for monitoring adverse cardiac side effects during cancer treatment for adults, none of the guidelines focused specifically on children. According to Conyers, the proliferation of novel cancer treatments had raised the risk of cardiac side effects surprisingly early into treatment, sometimes even days after the treatment began. This significantly increased the need for stringent surveillance of heart health as well as early-as-possible monitoring in pediatric cancer patients.
Conyers said that while advances in pediatric cancer treatment had increased patient survival rates to more than 80%, it is still crucial that physicians improve the health outcomes of their patients and, if possible, prevent further medical issues from developing. She explained that cardiac complications are the number one cause of death in pediatric cancer survivors followed by cancer relapse, stating that modern treatments may be more effective, but they have also increased the risk of heart problems in patients.
Compared to the general population, pediatric cancer survivors are 15 times more likely to suffer heart failure and 8 times more likely to develop heart disease. The new international guidelines will be an “indispensable tool” that will allow clinicians to reduce the harmful side effects of cancer treatments on children’s hearts.
Meanwhile, many for-profit entities, such as QSAM Biosciences Inc. (OTCQB: QSAM), are heavily invested in finding the next generation of pediatric cancer treatments so that some of the shortcomings of the current crop of treatments can become a thing of the past.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to QSAM Biosciences Inc. (OTCQB: QSAM) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/QSAM
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