Children and Medicine

Dedicated to the health and well-being of children around the globe!

Transitional Treatment of Post-pediatric Cancer Patients February 14, 2011

Filed under: Prianca — pmreddi @ 7:23 pm

As the treatment of pediatric cancer progresses, the rate of survivors increases. This is great! But now, the medical community is dealing with issues that arise post-treatment. The stress that a cancer patient goes through as a child can be traumatic and emotionally damaging. As adults, these patients are more susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and other psychological diseases. These problems lead to difficulties in making life-decisions and keeping healthy and intimate relationships (Kolb par. 7). These problems need not only be properly addressed, but they need to be prevented.

The transition from adolescence to adulthood can be a rigid, bumpy road. This is without any health issues. Patients will childhood illnesses have it much, much worse. According to a study in Royal Children’s Hospital in Australia, “Successful continuity of health care is dependent upon collaboration among adult care providers, pediatric care providers, and patients. Hospital-based transition programs allow for continuous collaboration to improve the system and overcome barriers” (Kolb 3). One model of transition care is called the medical-home model. This model dictates primary-care providers to treat every aspect of healthcare, including emotional healthcare. Through this process, the family and support of the child must be involved as well.

Currently, there are obstacles to integrating medicine into this holistic treatment. Many adult-care providers are not aware of the long-term affects of cancer (Kolb 7). Also, many parents do not let their children come to terms with their disease. They do not use medical terms and avoid any words that insinuate illness (Kolb 7). This attitude needs to change in order for patients to grow into healthy adults.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As medicine progresses, treatments will inevitably improve. The medical community will realize that holistic treatment of patients is not just a recommendation but also a necessity. The patients who were courageous and brave as they fought their battles deserve the best treatment that we can possibly give.

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Cancer through Time

Filed under: Prianca — pmreddi @ 3:31 pm

This post will overview the development of oncology through out history. Cancer is a malicious disease. Though medicine was not advanced enough to treat cancer, throughout history, there have been many theories to cancer.

Hippocrates had believed that there were four components to the human body- blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. He believed that a healthy human had a balance of these four substances. If anything became unbalanced then that was thought to have caused cancer. This theory is known as Humoral Theory (History of Cancer 3).

Different theories developed from Hippocrates’ theory, but in 1838 came a breakthrough- Blastema theory. Johannes Muller, showed that cancer did not derive from any irregularities of bodily liquids but from irregularities in cells. Eventually, Karl Thiersch would prove that cancer spreads from malignant cells (History of Cancer 3).

As time went on, technology improves. New instruments, allowed scientists to study cancer more closely and grasp it cause. Also, genetics had come a long way. Scientists learned that cancer stems from DNA mutations. And unfortunately, DNA mutations are mostly inherited. There are genes in the body known as tumor suppressor genes that regulate cell division and correct DNA mistake in encoding. When these genes are less in number or are not working properly, malignant cell growth has no regulation (History of Cancer par 7).

Some forms of cancer have increased in number because of lifestyle changes. For example, toxins in the air have increased cancers like lung cancer (History of Cancer 8).

As far as removal of cancer, even ancient scientists knew that after the surgical removal of the tumor, the cancer would eventually grow back (History of Cancer 10). Celsus, a Roman physician said, “After excision, even when a scar has formed, none the less the disease has returned” (qtd. in History of Cancer 7). Surgery is still being used today, but the instruments have become much more precise as technology advanced.

There was not much separation of pediatric oncology and adult oncology throughout history until recent years. This is much like many fields of medicine now. Oncology itself, is an up and coming field in medicine, but even in internal medicine, the separation of children’s medicine has only been present in recent years.

 

Pediatric Cancer Funding February 9, 2011

Filed under: Prianca — pmreddi @ 7:24 pm

In any medical field, funding is critical. This need includes research and treatment. Pediatric cancer is very much the same. There is no cure for cancer right now, yet since 2003, funding for pediatric cancer research has been decreasing annually (Jonsen n. pag.). According to Helen Jonsen of Forbes magazine, the reason for the lack of funding for pediatric cancer is the emotional toll the disease takes on the family. She explains, “children with life-threatening diseases exhaust their families emotionally and often financially; even after recovery, neither the children nor their parents find it easy to advocate for themselves…Unlike other health care lobbies, they do not have the energy to march in the streets and call for action” (Johnsen n. pag.).

Jonsen speaks from experience. Her daughter was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a cancer of the bone. This diagnosis came at a very late stage in the disease and the cancer had increased to the size of a wine bottle.  The doctor, therefore, had to do reconstructive surgery on Jonsen’s daughter and use a space age prosthetic to replace the knee. Only in July of 2008, did congress decide to pass a bill that gave 30 million dollars to funding pediatric cancer. This is the first major bill that was passed for pediatric cancer. The Bill was sponsored by Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), whose child had been diagnosed with cancer in 1999. Unfortunately, her daughter passed away (Jonsen n. pag.). Deborah Pryce went through so much pain, but it is a shame that that is what it took for congress to make positive changes for others.

Jonsen makes a comparison of the eradication of polio in the U.S. Polio was eradicated through philanthropic efforts. Like polio, cancer needs more money and campaigning in order to find a cure soon.  It should not take the loss of more lives in order for us to realize the breadth of the situation.

We must push for funding; push for research; and, push for treatment. These children need us. Like Jonsen mentions, these families cannot always speak for themselves, so let us help their voices be heard.

 

Stem Cell Research February 7, 2011

Filed under: Prianca — pmreddi @ 7:48 pm

Stem cell research is a controversial area in medicine. The research and further pursuit of stem cells could lead to cures to many diseases including cancer. There are two types of stem cell research- human embryonic and adult stem cell research. There is no controversy surrounding adult stem cell research, but human embryo stem cells are a different story (Bohlin n. pag.).

Adult stem cell therapy involves taking stem cells from the bone marrow and regenerating new cells. Stem cells can generate many different types of cells including cardiac, skeletal, and nueral muscle tissue. Human embryonic cells on the other hand involve destroying the embryo while harvesting the cells (Bohlin n. pag.). It is here that the controversy arises. Where does human life begin? Do embryonic cells have rights? Scientists believe it is with ES (embryonic) cells that the greatest potential lays. This is because ES cells are easily manipulated in many different cell types (Bohlin n. pag).

One side of the argument is to prohibit any research on embryonic stem cells, whether that is government or private funding (Bohlin). Others want more and more funding into ES cells. When the disagreement is a moral issue, it is harder to come to terms on anything.

According to the University of Michigan, stems cells can be a “revolution” for cancer because of the various treatments they offer. For example one can use stem cell technology to kill cancer stem cells and stop malignant growth (Cancer Stem Cell Research).

Its appears that because Embryonic research is still in its beginnings, this science has not had the opportunity to specialize into Pediatrics. Though, it is believed at this point in time that stem cells will have a great impact on cancer of all types.

 

Cancer Vaccines in Children and Adults February 2, 2011

Filed under: Prianca — pmreddi @ 7:32 pm

In many fields of medicine, pediatric medicine lags behind general medicine in research and funding. Cancer is one of those fields. This is a shame because cancer takes the lives of more than 1400 children each year in the U.S alone (Guinipero 292). Some childhood cancers like leukemia have found successful treatments but many diseases remain that do not have treatments.

For many diseases adults have more treatment options (Guinipero 292). Immunotherapy is one of these treatments; it uses vaccinations. The treatment option relies on the strength on the patient’s immune system. Older patients will have a harder time with this treatment due to the fact that their immune systems are not as strong. Immune systems of children are fighting germs and other antibodies constantly. Their systems are full of healthy antigens. One explanation for this difference in immune system function is that as one grows older, they loose the need for an active immune system as they have built immunities to most of their surroundings (292-293).

Another reason that immunotherapies are more effective in children is that many cancers show symptoms in earlier stages of the disease than in adults. By the time an adult realizes they have a cancer, it may be too late for the treatment to be effective (Guinipero 292). In a study testing a vaccine on mammary tumor cells in rats, “90% of young mice were protected from tumor challenge compared to only 10% of old mice” (293).

When studies like the rat study prove that children do much better than adults with immunotherapy, more money and research must go into these vaccines.

It is important that science takes advantage of the natural processes of the body and only enhances these. When the immune system of a child is fighting so hard to remove malignant cells, boosting it will only help. Research and resources should be applied to immunotherapy and everyone will see  results. These treatments could save thousands of lives each year.

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