UAB Study Links Poverty to ALL Cancer Relapse

Oct 11, 2023 at 12:20 pm by kbarrettalley

Dr. Aman Wadhwa
Dr. Aman Wadhwa

A study from the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine suggests that the economic status could be associated with excessive relapse in children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, is a type of blood cancer in which uncontrolled production of cancer cells occurs in the bone marrow,” said Aman Wadhwa, MD, assistant professor in the UAB Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology. “This prevents formation of normal blood cells. Treatment of ALL requires several years of chemotherapy, but cure rates exceed 90 percent.”

The study monitored over 600 participants who were diagnosed with ALL. Participants enrolled in this study were an average of six years old and were followed for eight years after the completion of their treatment.

For the study, families with incomes under 120 percent of the federal threshold were considered to be living in extreme poverty. Overall, 12.3 percent of the study participants met this criteria. Researchers found that patients living in households with extreme poverty were 14.3 percent more likely to have a relapse of ALL three years after diagnosis, compared to 7.6 percent for patients who were not in extreme poverty.

“Looking forward hops that pediatric oncologists caring for children with ALL screen for poverty and use available resources, such as gas cards and food vouchers, to help families struggling with these basic needs,” Wadhwa said.

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