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Changing the future for children with cancer

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month.  Sadly, 1,600 children are diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK.  Even more heart wrenching is the fact that 250 of these children die each year from their cancer.  At Worldwide Cancer Research we are dedicated to ensuring that one day, no life will be cut short by cancer.

We are currently funding research into a wide range of childhood cancers including Dr Steven Gamblin’s work at The Francis Crick Institute in the UK who is investigating how a type of childhood leukaemia called Mixed Lineage leukaemia (MLL) begins.  Leukaemia is the most common form of cancer in children under 14 years old.  Children almost always have one of the acute forms that progresses rapidly, requiring swift diagnosis and immediate treatment.  The good news is that most children with leukaemia are now cured outright, but this is at the expense of a particularly gruelling treatment regime.

Brain tumours are slightly less common in children, but are responsible for more deaths.  Some of our current brain tumour projects include Dr Giuseppe Testa at Istituto Europeo di Oncologia, Italy who is looking at something called gene tagging and its role in glioma recurrence.

We also fund research into rare childhood cancers including malignant rhabdoid tumours – an extremely rare but very aggressive tumour of the kidney or brain usually occurring in children under 3.  Prognosis is one of the poorest of all cancer types.  In the early-mid 2000s, separate grants to Dr Agnes Klochendler at the Hebrew University, Israel and Professor Moshe Yaniv at Institut Pasteur, France confirmed that mutation of the gene SNF5 drives rhabdoid tumour development. Swift and accurate diagnosis of these aggressive tumours is important to avoid delays in starting intensive treatment, and SNF5 testing is now used as part of this.

Worldwide Cancer Research has been funding research into childhood cancers for over 20 years.  We have already contributed to advances in some areas and we will continue to strive for better outcomes for children and their families.  You can read more in our latest blog.