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International Health Insurance News: Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia survival rates 'improving'

Expatriates with children who are suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) – the most common cancer to strike the young – may be pleased to hear the treatments provided by international medical insurance policies and other healthcare provisions have significantly improved the five-year survival rate for people with this condition.

While 83.7 per cent of those diagnosed with ALL between 1990 and 1994 lived for at least 60 months, this proportion rose to 90.4 per cent among those told they had the condition between 2000 and 2005.

This is according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, which involved analysis of 21,626 individuals suffering from the condition.

Symptoms of the ailment include pale skin, breathlessness, tiredness, a large number of consecutive infections and unusual or excessive bleeding.

Patients who were aged between zero and 22 and had been treated during a Children's Oncology Group clinical trial between the years of 1990 and 2005 were investigated, which represents approximately 55.8 per cent of all cases of the condition diagnosed in the US.

Professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, director of the Children's Hospital Colorado Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders and investigator at the Colorado Cancer Center Stephen Hunger was the lead author of the study.

He noted in the beginning of the 1960s, ALL was an incurable condition and although nearly 90 per cent of people diagnosed with the illness live for over five years nowadays, the fact that ten per cent still die shows more work needs to be done to address the problem.

"The improved survival is due to using existing drugs better, not because of the introduction of new drugs," the specialist stated.

However, improving the success of treatments could depend on predicting which patients are at a high risk of developing ALL, as well as producing innovative targeted therapies, the researchers remarked.

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