Pre-op chemotherapy aids young cancer patients

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LONDON (Reuters) - Children with advanced kidney cancer may suffer fewer long-term side effects and need less treatment if they are given chemotherapy to shrink their tumor before surgery, researchers said on Tuesday.

Wilms' tumor is the most common type of kidney cancer that affects children. In most cases it is curable.

Chemotherapy is normally given after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells in the body. But British scientists said some children would benefit from delaying surgery to receive chemotherapy treatment.

"For some children with advanced tumors, delaying their surgery reduced the size of their tumor enough to prevent them needing intensive treatment," said Dr Christopher Mitchell of the Oxford Radcliffe Hospital.

In a study presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) conference in Birmingham, England, Mitchell and his team studied the effects of immediate surgery or six weeks of chemotherapy before the tumor is removed.

More than 200 children in the 10-year study were selected to receive one of the treatments and the results were monitored.

Although the overall survival of the children in both groups was the same, the pre-operative treatment enabled the surgeons to remove the tumor more easily, according to the researchers.

Twenty percent fewer children in the pre-operative chemotherapy group needed radiotherapy or more chemotherapy after the surgery.

"This improvement in quality of life for patients is significant and we hope children diagnosed with Wilms' tumors in the future will benefit from our findings," Mitchell, who reported the results in the European Journal of Cancer, added in a statement.

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