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Monday 24th October 2016

Cancer children dying from infection

11th May 2009

Researchers have said more could be done to prevent children who have cancer dying from infections.


A team from St George's University London looked at death certificates over a two-year period and found that infection caused 82 deaths in child cancer patients.

They studied children under 15 years of age who had cancer and died between 2003-2005. The team found that in a quarter of patients with blood cancer - such as leukaemia - deaths were the result of a infection, not the cancer.

A child with blood cancer has more chance of infection because the cancer attacks the construction of their white blood cells, which are needed to support the immune system.

The team said the number of deaths they calculated from the study were likely to be underestimated because of limited data.

The researchers, whose work is published in the journal Pediatric Blood and Cancer, said that deaths could be prevented if strategies were improved.

Study leader Dr Jessica Bate, a clinical lecturer in child health at St George's University of London, said: "Survival rates are so much better than they have been, most children are surviving now and that's great but what we don't want is that they die from infections because that's something we should be able to do something about."

She added: "Some of the infections we found we should be able to treat - we have good antibiotics and we have good protocols - so it does raise the question why this small group of children is succumbing to that."

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