The most common childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), has a cure rate of more than 85 percent. However, one of the medications used to treat ALL, called vincristine, can cause painful and debilitating nerve damage. These side effects can persist long after treatment has stopped. A new study examined whether differences in an inherited gene is associated with an increased risk of developing these side effects.
William Evans, PharmD, from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and co-authors examined a large panel of genes in more than 300 children with ALL. They all received multiple courses of the anti-cancer drug, vincristine.