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Safer cancer treatments paying off

Posted by wlpo on May 31, 2015

New research shows that the move to make cancer treatments gentler for children has paid a double dividend. More kids are surviving than ever before, and without the long-term complications that doomed many of their peers a generation ago.

Radiation and chemotherapy have saved countless children from cancers but some treatments can damage the heart or other organs, problems that prove fatal years later.  In the 1990s, a push began to try to prevent these “late effects” by giving smaller, more targeted doses of radiation, avoiding certain drugs and changing the way chemo is given.

The new study, which tracked more than 34,000 childhood cancer survivors over several decades, shows that despite the easier treatments, survival continued to improve. Results were discussed Sunday at a cancer conference in Chicago.

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