Touching Lives - September 2014
Brain tumour research to help children like Jack
Jack was diagnosed with a brain tumour when he was just 14 months old. Following a gruelling year of treatment, involving brain surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, he thankfully recovered. Jack, who is pictured here as he appeared in our spring 2011 Touching Lives magazine, is now nine years old and has been clear of cancer for almost seven years. However, having radiotherapy at such a very young age has affected his working memory and he needs extra support at school. His mum Lisa says: “He is doing amazingly well and only has an annual check up now. He is a very happy boy and works very hard. He likes to play on his scooter and loves Lego! “We met so many lovely families who weren’t as lucky as us,” she adds. “That’s why it’s really important that more is known about this form of cancer.”
Action funding awarded in 2010 supported Research Training Fellow Dr Chris Howell in his bid to improve understanding and treatment of the type of brain tumour Jack had, called medulloblastoma. This is the most common cause of brain cancer in children and around one in 10 of the children who die from cancer in the UK have this type of tumour.
Dr Howell has been studying what changes in genetic factors cause medulloblastoma in different children under three. This has revealed a link between certain types of genetic change and how well a child responds to treatment; some children are more likely to recover more quickly than others. This knowledge will help doctors to better plan and design treatment for individual children, as well as to develop new treatments. It means that some children could be spared the damaging effects of radiotherapy, while those with the poorest chances of survival could receive more aggressive treatment, newly developed therapies or focus given to providing special care to maximise their quality of life.
This project was supported by generous donations from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and The Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust.