A project to build a house in 21 days is also building awareness of childhood cancer research.

Build for a Cure will see a fully furnished, four-bedroom, luxury family home built near Lake Macquarie, NSW and auctioned on 23 October with all proceeds donated to Children’s Cancer Institute.

Build for a Cure ambassador Dr Frank Alvaro is Paediatric Oncologist at John Hunter Children’s Hospital in Newcastle. He talks about what medical research has meant for children with leukaemia in the Hunter region.

“One of the great successes of childhood cancer treatment in my time as a paediatric oncologist has been to recognise those children with leukaemia who on face value look like they should do very well, but have not.

One of the challenges of research is to bring the research into the clinical areas to benefit the children,” Dr Alvaro said.

Thanks to medical research, by us and others, more than 85 per cent of children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia can be cured. While clinical remission is achieved initially in almost 100 per cent of patients, about a fifth later suffer a relapse due to the persistence of small numbers of cancer cells throughout treatment. It is these residual cancer cells that minimal residual disease, or MRD, testing measures. The results help clinicians tailor their treatment to prevent relapse.

Dr Alvaro says MRD testing has changed the way doctors treat leukaemia and has greatly improved survival. The team at John Hunter have a strong and longstanding research relationship with our MRD group that has led to clinical trials for children being treated for cancer at the hospital.

MRD research group manager Dr Rosemary Sutton has co-ordinated diagnostic testing for more than 700 children from Australia and New Zealand with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, the most common childhood cancer.

Research for the future

While there’s been significant progress in improving overall survival for children with cancer, every week on average three Australian children die from their disease. All funds raised through Build for a Cure will fund research into tailored therapies for high-risk child cancer patients across Australia, including those treated at the John Hunter Children’s Hospital in Newcastle.

Read more about Minimal Residual Disease testing and research, and Build For a Cure.

Pic: Dr Frank Alvaro (John Hunter Children’s Hospital), Dr Rosemary Sutton (Children’s Cancer Institute), cancer patient Rebecca and her mum



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