Even though a majority of children living with leukemia and other fatal forms of cancers are typically treated successfully these days, 30 to 40 percent are suffering long-term damage. According to the Hawaii Children’s Cancer Foundation, children who have successful gone through cancer treatments often suffer neurocognitive problems.
Dr. Wendi Hirsch, the child psychologist at the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children has done extensive research with colleagues at the hospital on the subject of leukemia and children. Hirsch says the impact of chemotherapy and radiation on the cognitive abilities of children can be harsher and take longer to get over in comparison to adults. However, she also says that this has only been realized in the past few years and therefore more research could bring about the fast development of stronger treatments.
“Unfortunately, the advance in chemotherapy agents is killing some of the good brain cells as well as those they’re trying to kill,” explains Dr. Hirsch.
Foundation to Help Fund Research
Dr. Hirsch is also working with a foundation that is bringing one of the nation’s most reputable researchers, Dr. Danny Armstrong, together in conjunction with the NFL Charities to help increase awareness of these types of problems.
Dr. Armstrong is the professor of pediatrics and psychology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and directs the Mailman Center for Child Development. He is also currently working with the national Cancer Institute’s Children’s Oncology Group on a study of neurocognitive outcomes in children receiving treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia.
In addition to leading a discussion and hosting a dinner in honor of leukemia research this week, Armstrong will also be meeting with the Hawaii Medical Service Association. They will reportedly been discussing the need for early testing for children and the need for neurocognitive therapy for children who receive chemotherapy.