Jump to:  A   |   B   |   C   |   D   |   E   |   F   |   G   |   H   |   I   |   J   |   K   |   L   |   M   |   N   |   O   |   P   |   Q   |   R   |   S   |   T   |   U   |   V   |   W   |   X   |   Y

Many Childhood Leukemia Survivors Aren't Taking 'Maintenance' Meds: Study

Many Childhood Leukemia Survivors Aren't Taking 'Maintenance' Meds: Study

FRIDAY, June 6, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- For child survivors of a blood cancer called acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), two years of follow-up medications help assure that the cancer doesn't return.

But a new study finds that a quarter of these young cancer survivors aren't taking the potentially lifesaving drugs.

A prime reason for the lapse: forgetfulness.

"One in four children in remission from ALL does not take the medicine needed to remain cancer-free and, in an overwhelming majority, the primary reason why is that they forget to take their pills each day," study senior author Dr. Smita Bhatia, of City of Hope in Duarte, Calif., said in a news release from the American Society of Hematology.

ALL is a cancer of the white blood cells, but the advent of new drugs means that most children with ALL go into remission within a month after beginning their cancer treatment.

However, one in five of these children will relapse. To prevent the cancer from coming back, children with ALL must take a chemotherapy pill, called 6-mercaptopurine (6MP), daily for two years.

Although 6MP has been proven effective, previous studies found that children may have trouble taking the drug on a regular basis. Since there are racial differences in survival rates for ALL, the researchers took a closer look at patterns in adherence to 6MP treatment plans.

"While we don't yet know why children of different races have significantly different survival rates for ALL, we know that their adherence to their maintenance medication is a critical factor in their survival," explained Bhatia.

Back in 2012, the researchers found that Hispanic children were less likely to follow their 6MP maintenance regimen as regularly as non-Hispanic white children.

Exploring the issue further, Bhatia's team tracked how well almost 300 black, Asian and non-Hispanic white children in remission from ALL kept up with their daily dose of 6MP.

Levels of the drug were tracked in the children's bloodstream. The researchers also placed an electronic microprocessor chip in the cap of each child's pill bottle. This chip recorded every date the bottle was opened for a period of six months.

The study, published online recently in Blood, revealed that black and Asian children were less likely than white children to stick to their treatment regimen. The researchers found that 46 percent of black children and 28 percent of Asian children were not taking enough 6MP to prevent their cancer from returning. The same was true for 14 percent of white children.

Asian and black children who came from homes in which their mother was their full-time caregiver and treatment supervisor were more likely to take their medication properly. In turn, the black children who had a mother with less education or lived in a home with one parent and multiple children were less likely to take their medication as prescribed.

Certain interventions might raise the numbers of ALL survivors who stick to the 6MP regimen, Bhatia said.

Further studies, could "examine how physicians can successfully intervene, using technology, for example, to ensure that children do not experience an increased risk of relapse because they did not take their [pills]," she said.

More information

The American Cancer Society provides more information on childhood leukemia.

SOURCE: American Society of Hematology, news release, June 2, 2014

Reviewed Date: --

Find a pediatrician
Hematology and Oncology
Dr. Herbert Bevan
Dr. Raven Cooksey
Dr. Wilson File
Dr. Eric Lowe
Dr. William Owen
Dr. Linda Pegram
Dr. Eric Werner
Health Tips
Abuse of Prescription ADHD Drugs Rising on College Campuses
Cool Tools to Keep Your Kids From Smoking
Do Parents Influence Their Kids’ Health Behaviors?
Guidelines for Raising Smoke-Free Kids
Helping Kids Get Over their Fears
How Old Is 'Old Enough' for Contacts?
Parents-to-Be Must Communicate
Preparing Your Daughter for Changes
Reading to Kids Helps Their Development
Someone's in the Kitchen with Grandma
Talk With Your Kids About These Issues
Talking about Sex with Your Teen
Teens and Talk: What's a Parent to Do?
We Can Head Off Teen Tragedies
When to Call the Doctor for Childhood Illnesses
Leukemia Quiz
Leukemia Quiz II
Do You Know the Warning Signs of Cancer?
Diseases & Conditions
About Cancer
AIDS/HIV in Children
Alternative Therapy for Cancer
Anatomy of a Child's Brain
Anatomy of the Endocrine System in Children
Anxiety Disorders in Children
Asthma in Children Index
Bone Marrow Transplantation in Children
Brain Tumors in Children
Causes of Cancer
Chemotherapy for Children: Side Effects
Coping with a Diagnosis of Cancer in Children
Diagnosing Cancer
Diphtheria in Children
Ewing Sarcoma
Hepatitis B (HBV) in Children
High-Risk Newborn Blood Disorders
Inflammatory and Infectious Musculoskeletal Disorders
Inflammatory and Infectious Neurological Disorders
Inguinal Hernia in Children
Insect Bites and Children
Kidney Transplantation in Children
Meningitis in Children
Mood Disorders in Children and Adolescents
Muscular Dystrophy
Myasthenia Gravis in Children
Nutritional Requirements for a Child With Cancer
Osteosarcoma in Children
Pediatric Blood Disorders
Poliomyelitis (Polio) in Children
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children
Preparing the School-Aged Child for Surgery
Schizophrenia in Children
School-Aged Child Nutrition
Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis
Sports Safety for Children
Superficial Injuries Overview
Television and Children
The Growing Child: 2-Year-Olds
The Heart
The Kidneys
Treatment for Cancer
Vision Overview
Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
Your Child's Asthma
Your Child's Asthma: Flare-ups

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.