Saving the lives of children with leukaemia

Over decades of research, Professor Murray Norris and his team have made life-saving breakthroughs that have improved survival rates in children diagnosed with leukaemia.

Professor Norris, Deputy Director of Children’s Cancer Institute in Sydney said the work had been possible through Cancer Council grants funded by the generous donations of Australians.

“We’ve been able to develop a test that can pick up very small numbers of leukaemia cells in children who show no signs of the disease,” Professor Norris said.

“Using this test, a national clinical trial of over 650 children with leukaemia measured whether the treatment they were being given was effective.

“Where it wasn’t, they were being given different forms of treatment,” said Professor Norris.

Being able to catch signs of the disease earlier has had a huge impact on treating childhood leukaemia patients effectively.

“When the ten-year trial started, the survival rate for children with this high-risk form of disease was less than 40%, and at the end, the survival rate for these children had risen to over 70%,” said Professor Norris.

Professor Norris has high hopes of even further reducing the impact of those diagnosed with childhood leukaemia.

“We’re also taking part in an international clinical trial for children who relapse from leukaemia – children who would otherwise have a dismal outcome,” he explained.

“One of the problems we’re seeing is that later in life, children who have survived childhood cancers often have quite significant side effects from the treatment they were given.

“We hope to come up with newer, better and safer treatments for these children.”

Professor Norris is grateful to be a part of such important work which provides hope to many Australian families.

“For me personally, I can think of no greater reward than knowing that you have contributed to research, that has ultimately improved the outcome of treating children with cancer.

“By donating to the Cancer Council, you can rest assured you are donating to research today that can potentially lead to tomorrow’s cures.”


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