LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas Children’s Research Institute is beginning a study to reduce long-term side effects for childhood cancer survivors. It’s all thanks to a more than $2,000,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health.
According to the lead doctor on the study, ACRI P.H.D Ellen Van Der Plas, she and other doctors will study kids going through treatment and how that treatment can affect their brain.
Some of the long-term side effects of childhood cancer are trouble concentrating, poor memory and shorter attention spans. They will look at children during their first year of treatment and compare that to kids who do not have cancer but are the same age.
“Early on in treatment I expect these kids don’t look very much different from their peers but we know from later on when they’re older they do and it must happen at some point in time, so the goal is obviously to prevent that,” Dr. Van Der Plas said.
The $2.5 million will go towards scans, ways to keep kids still while they perform those scans, as well as collect blood samples to look at proteins associated with brain injuries. Doctors will also assess how the kids complete games and puzzles to see how they think and make decisions.
“Some of these kids that we’re looking at are 4 when they become survivors and they have a whole life ahead of them and that life needs to be just as good as the kids that did not have cancer,” Dr. Van Der Plas said.
She said the most common forms of childhood cancer have a very good survival rate if treated, that’s why this research is so important to improve the quality of life for those cancer survivors.