During the first year of the charity’s existence, The Bone Cancer Research Trust supported Dr Richard McNally, of Newcastle University, to carry out a study into the known data regarding primary bone cancer in children and young adults.
Dr McNally and his team looked back at all previously published information regarding these tumours to develop an accurate and up-to-date figure-set on the incidence, survival and possible cause of primary bone cancer in children and young adults. They did so by investigating this data in Northern England and the West Midlands in an attempt to identify any trends in incidence or environmental risk factors that may require further investigation.
What were the key findings of this project?
The review covered all studies published from 1970 to 2006, in an attempt to determine trends such as; gender, age at diagnosis, location, incidence and survival. From this, the team highlighted numerous aspects, such as:
- Children aged 0-14years show equal incidence of bone tumours by gender, but in adolescents aged 15-19 these tumours are more common in males.
- Primary bone cancer is rarely diagnosed in children under the age of 5 years and most commonly diagnosed around the time of puberty; which coincides with peak bone growth.
- Five year survival from bone tumours has increased since 1970, although there has been little improvement since 1990.
- Survival in the UK is lower than in the West, North and South regions of Europe although higher than in East Europe.
- Survival is higher in the USA than in Europe.
- Survival for primary bone cancer decreases with age of diagnosis, with adolescents showing lower five year survival rates than children.
Although it is difficult to draw conclusions from these results, Dr McNally found a younger age at puberty, an exposure to fluoride and a family history of cancer to be associated with the development of primary bone cancer. Although no associations were firmly established by the study, the team in Newcastle felt the results warranted continued research to confirm or refute these associations. To support this, The Bone Cancer Research funded further research by this group in 2008 to investigate the possibility of fluoride exposure being associated to the development of primary bone cancer in children and young adults. You can read about his project here.