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Quality of Life Study

About the Study

Who do we study?

The goal of the study is to understand how treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia may change the brain and affect an individual’s ability to learn, focus or remember tasks.  We studied children and teens between the ages of eight (8) to eighteen (18) years old who are survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  Our study also included a comparison group of children and teens who did not receive treatment for leukemia.  That way we could determine whether there were functional and neurological differences between the groups that could be explained by exposure to cancer treatment.

Quick fact

Leukemia is cancer of the blood and the bone marrow.  Leukemia cells multiply at a fast rate and replace the healthy blood cells.

Why do we study leukemia survivors?

There are more childhood cancer survivors alive today than ever before.  You can clearly see that in the graph below.  In the 1970s less than 50 per cent of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia survived, but in 2010 over 90 per cent were cured of their illness.

Unfortunately, between 40 to 60 per cent of ALL survivors may experience problems that may affect mental abilities such as memory and attention.  We think that these problems are common consequences because aspects of the cancer treatment may be harmful to the developing brain. This study provided a unique opportunity to identify which aspects of the treatment were responsible.  We hope that our research will give us clues how to help cancer survivors who are struggling with these lasting side effects and how we can avoid the harmful impact of chemotherapy treatment for kids with leukemia.