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I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Here is what's new this week in To Your Health — a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM — that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.
The degree a child is susceptible to cancer is uncertain even if he or she inherits a family history of cancer and has a gene that is associated with cancer's development, finds a study (with an accompanying editorial) recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The study found only about 8.5 percent of child participants with cancer had a mutation that might later result in cancer. The study's 32 authors also reported a family cancer history in only about 40 percent of the 95 participants (out of 1,120 children) in the study who had a presumed heritable mutation.
In what the accompanying editorial terms a remarkable finding, the study additionally found 42 percent of the participants with a family cancer history did not have a heritable mutation.
The researchers sequenced DNA purified from blood samples from 1120 children with diverse cancers.
The editorial's author suggests the research actually may overestimate the proportion of boys and girls with cancer who have a dominant mutation that may lead to cancer susceptibility. The editorial's author explains the study underscores the uncertainty about how genetic mutations in children may or may not lead to the growth of tumors and cancers.
However, the editorial's author writes (and we quote): 'There are many questions to address moving forward but the work by (the researchers) provides the most comprehensive blueprint to date of genetic childhood-cancer predisposition' (end of quote).
The editorial writer adds (and we quote): 'Although (the researchers) probably described only the proverbial tip of the iceberg in terms of the complexity of cancer susceptibility, their work provides firm ground on which to reconsider how to approach the pediatric patient with cancer. At a minimum, this work highlights the fact that family history alone is an unreliable guide to the likelihood of a cancer-predisposition syndrome in any patient with a newly diagnosed cancer' (end of quote).
Meanwhile, some helpful information about child cancer (from the National Cancer Institute) is available in the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's cancer in children health topic page.
A well-written guidebook for parents of children with cancer (also from the National Cancer Institute) similarly is available in the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's cancer in children health topic page.
The American Cancer Society explains the most common forms of child cancers within the 'related issues' section of MedlinePlus.gov's cancer in children health topic page.
MedlinePlus.gov's cancer in children health topic page additionally provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. Links to clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available in the 'clinical trials' section. You can sign up to receive updates about children with cancer as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.
To find MedlinePlus.gov's cancer in children health topic page, please type 'cancer in children' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'cancer in children (National Library of Medicine).' MedlinePlus.gov also has specific health topic pages devoted to child brain tumors and childhood leukemia.
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