Over the past decades, cure rates for many cancers have improved dramatically. The harsh reality is, however, that too many cancer survivors suffer serious side-effects of their curative treatments. Toxic side-effects can occur months or years after the treatments are finished, sometimes as chronic conditions, sometimes life-threatening, but always unacceptably reducing a patient’s quality of life.While research continues to seek new safe and effective drugs, what patients need now is for current therapies to be made less harmful without sacrificing their effectiveness.In a new initiative, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer founded in 1949 and headquartered in White Plains, NY, will invest in research designed to discover the biological mechanisms that cause late effects, and to develop and test measures to prevent or at least significantly reduce toxicities. LLS is seeking requests for proposals from scientists studying these issues.The pediatric cancer story has shown us that the goal is achievable. Years of research and clinical trials enabled survival rates to reach nearly 90% for children with acute lymphocytic leukemia. But then the medical and research community recognized that the serious late effects were severely impacting quality of life. High-dose radiation treatments, once thought critical to cures, have been eliminated for most children, significantly reducing cognitive deficits and other once common side-effects.Now The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has set a goal of doing for all cancer patients, regardless of age, what has been achieved for many children — survival with good quality of life.The initiative is being led by Anna T. Meadows, M.D., medical director of the Cancer Survivorship and Living Well After Cancer Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Meadows is an internationally recognized pioneer in late effects research; she helped quantify the serious consequences of high-dose radiation and eliminate it from curative treatments for most children with leukemia and lymphoma.”We must find the answers and test them as soon as possible,” says Dr. Meadows. “We must be determined and courageous – funders, researchers, and patients alike – because survival is just the first part of the struggle to cure cancer; the quality of that survival matters.”

Byondis

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