Treating the rare children’s cancer neuroblastoma with a high dose of chemotherapy that is now the standard in Europe has proved to be most effective in an 18-country study comparing treatment regimes.
Outlining the study’s results, the Institute of Cancer Research in a statement said the European protocol offered 16% better disease-free survival at three years compared with a treatment based on the current U.S. protocol, and that the higher European dosage standard had fewer toxic side effects.
The trial was funded by Cancer Research UK, the Children’s Cancer Research Institute in Vienna and the European Commission.
Senior trial investigator Professor Andrew Pearson from the Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden Hospital in London said, “Neuroblastoma is one of the most common types of childhood cancer in the U.K. and high-risk neuroblastoma is one the major causes of death in children from malignancy.”
“In this study, we found that the combination of chemotherapy drugs given for consolidation therapy used in Europe led to children living longer on average than a regimen based on the U.S. standard.”
“This very conclusive result will alter the way that doctors treat their patients worldwide, and will mean fewer children die from this disease each year.”
Pearson noted that the chemotherapy drugs–busulphan and melphalan–were discovered and developed at the Institute of Cancer Research in the 1950s. “It is especially pleasing that drugs discovered here in the U.K. so many decades ago may now make a difference to the lives of children all over the world.”
Julie Hearn, head of clinical trials at Cancer Research UK, said, “The results of this study offer new hope for children diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma.”

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