Olle Björk

Karolinska Institutet, Solna, Stockholm, Sweden

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Publications (69)178.21 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Purpose: To gain knowledge about foreign-born parents' experiences of dealing with their child's illness and treatment in the context of pediatric cancer care. Method: Data from 11 individual interviews with foreign-born parents were analyzed using qualitative inductive constant comparative analysis. Results: To struggle on in childhood cancer care, foreign-born parents engaged in resourcing using various strategies including: information-monitoring, staying strong, support-seeking and concern-focusing. Parents experienced obstacles to information-monitoring and support-seeking related to their foreign background. Conclusions: The results provide a framework for understanding how foreign-born parents try to deal with childhood cancer care and can be used by health care staff to support their resourcing. Even though preconditions might differ, the strategies presented might also be used by native-born parents however further studied are needed.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2016
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: The present study aimed to investigate the relationship between school attendance and infection requiring antimicrobial treatment in children undergoing treatment for cancer. Procedure: A national cohort of children aged 7-16 years undergoing cancer treatment was assessed during two observation periods of 19 days each, 1 month (n = 89) and 2.5 months (n = 89) poststart of treatment. Children free from infection at start of each observation period were included. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed including factors potentially associated with start of antimicrobial treatment. Results: Twenty-seven (30%) children started antimicrobial treatment during the first observation period. Factors associated with an increased risk of starting antimicrobial treatment were diagnosed with sarcoma (OR = 24.37, P = 0.002) or non-Hodgkin lymphoma (OR = 17.57, P = 0.025), having neutropenia (OR = 5.92, P = 0.020) and age less than 13 years (OR = 8.54, P = 0.014). During the second observation period, when 20 (22%) children started antimicrobial treatment, the probability of starting treatment was increased in children with neutropenia (OR = 4.25, P = 0.007). There was no statistically significant association between starting treatment for infection and school attendance. Conclusions: In this study, children attending school while undergoing cancer treatment did not run a higher risk of starting antimicrobial treatment than children absent from school. However, there is a need for further studies evaluating risk of infections in children with ongoing cancer treatment.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Pediatric Blood & Cancer
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sweden's population is gradually changing to become more multiethnic and diverse and that applies also for recipients of health care, including childhood cancer care. A holistic view on the sick child in the context of its family has always been a cornerstone in childhood cancer care in Sweden. The purpose of this study was to gain knowledge about the experiences and main concern of foreign-born parents in the context of paediatric cancer care. Interviews were performed with eleven foreign-born parents and data were analysed using a classic grounded theory approach. Foreign-born parents often feel in a position of powerless dependence, but family interests are protected in their approaches to interaction with healthcare staff, through cooperation, contesting, and reluctant resigning. Healthcare staff need to listen to foreign-born parents and deal with their concerns seriously to prevent powerless-dependence and work for trustful cooperation in the common fight against childhood cancer.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2012 · International Journal of Pediatrics
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Scandinavian Sarcoma Group (SSG) XIV protocol is based on experience from previous SSG trials and other osteosarcoma intergroup trials, and has been considered the best standard of care for patients with extremity localized, non-metastatic osteosarcoma. We analyzed the outcome in 63 consecutive patients. Patients and methods From 2001 through 2005, 63 patients recruited from centers in Sweden, Norway, and Finland were included. They received preoperative chemotherapy consisting of 2 cycles of paired methotrexate (12 g/m²), cisplatin (90 mg/m²), and doxorubicin (75 mg/m²). 3 cycles were administered postoperatively, and poor histological responders were given 3 additional cycles of ifosfamide (10-12 g/m²) as a salvage strategy. With a median follow-up of 77 months for survivors, the estimated metastasis-free and sarcoma-related survival at 5 years was 70% and 76%, respectively. 53 patients were treated with limb salvage surgery or rotationplasty and 2 patients experienced a local recurrence. 3 toxic deaths were recorded, all related to acute toxicity from chemotherapy. The 5-year metastasis-free survival of poor histological responders receiving add-on treatment with ifosfamide was 47%, as compared to 89% for good histological responders. Outcome from the SSG XIV protocol compares favorably with the results of previous SSG trials and other published osteosarcoma trials. However, salvage therapy given to poor responders did not improve outcome to a similar degree as for good responders. In a multi-institutional setting, more than four-fifths of the patients were operated with limb salvage surgery or rotationplasty, with few local recurrences.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2011 · Acta Orthopaedica
  • Anne Kästel · Karin Enskär · Olle Björk
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of the study is to highlight parents' views on information in childhood cancer care. A qualitative design, appropriate to gain a holistic view, has been chosen. Eight families with children diagnosed with cancer, of various ages and gender and from various backgrounds, participated in five interviews each during the first year of the child's illness. If the parents' needs were fulfilled, they were better equipped to handle the illness of their child, which is totally dependant on how the matter of information is dealt with. Information is a complex and demanding issue for the persons involved and the families' views were divergent in this area. Sometimes they seemed to obtain the information successfully and sometimes there were great problems in this respect. Therefore their preferences must be considered. There has to be an improvement from the aspects of what, when and how information is provided. The major findings of this study indicate that the families need better support and more distinct instructions to be able to cope with the situation.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2010 · European journal of oncology nursing: the official journal of European Oncology Nursing Society
  • Salah Hayder · Olle Björk · Bo Nilsson
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A statistical analysis of possible risk factors for relapse during maintenance therapy (MT) for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) has been performed. The patient material consists of 64 patients. Twenty-six patients were classified as standard risk (SR), 21 as intermediate risk (IR), and 17 as high-risk (HR) patients. Seventeen patients relapsed and 50 patients (78%) are alive at a median observation period of 86 months (range 39-146 months). Mean white blood cell count (mean WBC) based on weekly determinations, duration of treatment interruption, and the number of infectious episodes were calculated in each patient during the first 6 months of MT. In analyses starting at 6 months after the beginning of MT, these factors were related to relapse risk, time to relapse, and time to infection. Using the median WBC value (3.9 x 10(9)/L) of all patients during the first 6 months as a cutoff point, 14 patients with levels higher, and 3 patients with levels lower relapsed (p = .0004). Adjustment of mean WBC for leukemia risk groups had no influence on the analysis. Time to relapse was related to duration of interruption of MT (p less than .01). Time to relapse was not related to leukemia risk groups. Infection frequency was higher in HR patients compared to SR and IR risk patients (p = .04). As WBC level had a prognostic value and was previously shown to be related to 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP) peak plasma concentration, monitoring 6-MP plasma levels during MT could be helpful for optimizing treatment.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2009 · Pediatric Hematology and Oncology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of the study was to describe how young adults who have survived childhood cancer consider their present life to be influenced by the cancer experience. A cohort of 246 long-term survivors were approached a median of 16 years after diagnosis. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted based on the Swedish version of the Schedule for the Evaluation of Individual Quality of Life-Direct Weighting (SEIQoL-DW). Interviews were analysed using content analyses. When asked if cancer negatively or positively currently affected their lives, 68% reported at least one negative consequence and 53% at least one positive consequence. The most frequently reported negative consequences include a variety of physical impairments and limitations in participating in activities; positive consequences describe a more positive view of life and of self. Women more often than men reported negative psychological impact, a changed body appearance and positive interaction with others. CNS tumours and combined treatment were somewhat associated to a higher extent of negative consequences. Overall, the results indicate that long-term survivors of childhood cancer are getting along quite well despite shortcomings.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2008 · European journal of oncology nursing: the official journal of European Oncology Nursing Society
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aims of this study are to follow health-related quality of life (HRQOL), school attendance, and social interaction with friends in children with cancer and to explore potential relationships between HRQOL and school attendance. The study also describes self-reported reasons for not attending school and not meeting friends. During a 2-year period, all schoolchildren in Sweden starting treatment for cancer were invited to participate in the study. Participants (N = 101) were assessed 3 times during the first 5 months of treatment using 2 questionnaires: DISABKIDS Chronic Generic Module (DCGM-37) and a study-specific questionnaire. The results indicate a diminished HRQOL that remained stable over the study period, with girls rating worse HRQOL compared with boys. School attendance significantly increased over time, and approximately half of the children attended school 5 months after start of treatment. Self-reported HRQOL was positively correlated to days of school attendance. The results emphasize the importance of psychosocial care and nursing for children diagnosed with cancer, especially for girls. Research to further explore gender differences in HRQOL among children diagnosed for cancer is recommended.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2008 · Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this qualitative study, we used grounded theory to explore the category of "overwhelming emotional expressions" that emerged in a previous study. Using theoretical sampling, 12 individual interviews were conducted with nurses in Swedish pediatric care. Overwhelming emotional expressions have been found to override nurses' professional preparedness; they continuously resolve this by protecting professional composure. Various strategies are used to protect professional composure, including rationalizing, controlled expression, power display, escape/avoidance, distancing, sharing, and management of space. Some of these strategies are similar to coping strategies. However, they differ in that they are about managing the situation and also include protecting the professional composure of the individual as well as the whole care situation. Nurses need to gain preparedness to meet overwhelming emotional expressions in transcultural care and to be aware of strategies for protecting professional composure so as to use them consciously and positively.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2008 · Qualitative Health Research
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: CXCL12 (SDF-1alpha) is a chemokine, which plays an important role in normal B-cell lymphopoesis, migration and homing to the bone marrow (BM) and previous studies have suggested a role for CXCL12 and its receptor CXCR4 in the pathogenesis of ALL. CXCL12 levels in serum were evaluated from ALL-children and controls. The biological effect of recombinant CXCL12 on primary leukaemic cells was investigated. Signalling via the CXCL12/CXCR4 axis was further characterized in an in vitro model using the pre-B leukaemic cell line Nalm-6. The serum level of CXCL12 in children at diagnosis of pre-B-ALL is significantly higher than in healthy children (4.8 (0-32) ng/ml vs. 0 (0-3.2) ng/ml, P < 0.001). After completed chemotherapy, CXCL12 decreases to levels comparable to those found in the control group. In addition, we found that recombinant CXCL12 enhances pre-B leukaemic cell proliferation in vitro. The CXCL12/CXCR4 axis is able to initiate functional signalling and we show that STAT5 is activated in CD19+ leukaemic cells from BM of ALL patients and in the leukaemic cell line Nalm-6. Our findings suggest that CXCL12 may have a role in leukaemic cell proliferation and survival during childhood ALL.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2008 · Pediatric Blood & Cancer
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this qualitative study we explored how health-care staff continuously resolve "obstacles to transcultural caring relationships" as they care for families with an immigrant background within the context of pediatric oncology care. A constant comparative method was used and data collection included 5 focus group interviews and 5 complementary individual interviews with health-care staff within pediatric oncology care. Bridging emerged as the way that health-care staff deal with obstacles to transcultural caring relationships. Bridging is a process in which various tools may be used and combined, including communicational tools, transcultural tools and organizational tools. Failure to use tools, or to use and combine them insufficiently, can bring the caring relationship to a halt, which leads to inequity in care. In order to ensure the provision of high-quality care despite differences in religion, culture, language and social situation, health-care staff need to bridge obstacles to transcultural caring relationships.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2008 · European Journal of Oncology Nursing
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This qualitative study explores the caring situation of families with an immigrant background within the context of pediatric oncology care from the perspective of health care staff. Five focus group interviews and 5 complementary individual interviews were conducted after purposive and theoretical sampling, respectively. Grounded theory methodology revealed that obstacles to transcultural caring relationships are a main concern of the health care staff. These obstacles are divided into 4 main categories: linguistic, cultural and religious, social, and organizational. When health care staff fail to recognize obstacles to transcultural caring relationships, the result is inequity in care of families with an immigrant background. Equity in care for all does not mean identical treatment but, rather, care adjusted to the needs of the individual family regardless of background.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2007 · Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing
  • L. Wettergren · K. Sundberg · O. Björk · C. Lampic
    No preview · Article · Sep 2007 · EJC Supplements
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: One aspect of organizing medical follow-up for adult survivors of childhood cancer is to determine to what extent the former patient experiences a need for health services. In the present paper, we studied how the healthcare needs, both subjectively and objectively, were fulfilled for our former patients. 335 survivors over 18 y of age, with a follow-up time of more than 5 y after completion of therapy, were sent a questionnaire probing their present use of health services. The response rate was 73%. A majority (60%) of the survivors had no regular follow-up visits, and 42% of these reported that they missed not having one. More than one third were thus far dissatisfied with the follow-up programme. Only 3% of those who had regular follow-ups found them "unnecessary". Complaints subjectively related to their diseases or treatments were reported by 47%. Out of all responders, 34% did not miss having regular follow-up visits. Neither perceived disease-related complaints nor radiation therapy was a predictor for having a scheduled follow-up visit. In the absence of a long-term follow-up programme, many survivors were not receiving proper medical healthcare, whether from their perspective or from a professional one.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2006 · Acta Paediatrica
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: CD27, a member of the TNF receptor family, plays an important role in lymphoid proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. This study addresses the expression of CD27 and its ligand, CD70, in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and the possible role of this receptor-ligand pair in the pathogenesis of ALL. Expression of CD27 and CD70 was evaluated with three-color flow cytometry in blood and bone marrow (BM) samples in children with ALL and controls. The biological role of these molecules on leukemic cell proliferation was studied in an in vitro culture system. The expression of the membrane bound CD27, as well as membrane bound CD70, on CD19(+) cells in the BM was significantly increased in ALL children compared to the expression found in the controls. Importantly, a substantial reduction in the in vitro proliferation of leukemic cells could be observed when the leukemic cells were cultured in presence of a blocking anti-human CD70 monoclonal antibody. The level of soluble CD27 (sCD27) in serum was also investigated and found to be significantly elevated in leukemic children as compared to healthy children. The high expression of CD27 and CD70 on ALL cells may represent an amplification of the normal CD27-CD70 expression present on early B cell progenitors. Our finding suggests that interference with CD27-CD70 interaction may represent novel treatment opportunities in ALL. Further studies are required to pin-point the role of this receptor-ligand pair in normal and malignant hematopoiesis.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2006 · Experimental Hematology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Palliative care is an important part of cancer treatment. However, little is known about how care-related factors affect bereaved intimates in a long-term perspective. We conducted a population-based, nationwide study addressing this issue, focusing on potential care-related stressors in parents losing a child to cancer. In 2001, we attempted to contact all parents in Sweden who had lost a child to cancer in 1992 to 1997. The parents were asked, through an anonymous postal questionnaire, about their experience of the care given and to what extent these experiences still affect them today. Information was supplied by 449 (80%) of 561 eligible parents. Among 196 parents of children whose pain could not be relieved, 111 (57%) were still affected by it 4 to 9 years after bereavement. Among 138 parents reporting that the child had a difficult moment of death, 78 (57%) were still affected by it at follow-up. The probability of parents reporting that their child had a difficult moment of death was increased (relative risk = 1.4; 95% CI, 1.0 to 1.8) if staff were not present at the moment of death. Ten percent of the parents (25 of 251 parents) were not satisfied with the care given during the last month at a pediatric hematology/oncology center; the corresponding figure for care at other hospitals was 20% (33 of 168 parents; P = .0163). Physical pain and the moment of death are two important issues to address in end-of-life care of children with cancer in trying to reduce long-term distress in bereaved parents.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2006 · Journal of Clinical Oncology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The prognosis in childhood non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) has improved dramatically during recent decades. The authors report the results from a 6-year population-based study of clinical characteristics and treatment results of NHL from the five Nordic countries. All children younger than 15 years of age at diagnosis with NHL diagnosed from 1995 to 2000 were stratified and treated according to immunophenotypic classification and stage of disease. A total of 230 patients were diagnosed with primary NHL, which gives an annual incidence of 0.9/100.000 children, with a median age of 8 years. Seven percent of the children were below 3 years of age at diagnosis. The male/female ratio was 2.3 and was unrelated to age. Patients with pre-B and T-cell NHL constituted 33%, B-cell NHL 53%, and anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) 14%. According to Murphy's classification, 14% had stage 1, 17% stage 2, 50% stage 3, and 19% stage 4 disease, 12 of whom (28%) had central nervous involvement (CNS) at diagnosis. By January 1, 2003, four children had died during induction, three children died in remission (2, 6, and 26 months from diagnosis), and 24 children experienced a relapse. At 5 years, the probability of event-free survival (p-EFS) was 86+/-2% for all children. The 5-year p-EFS values for stages 1 through 4 were 94%, 97%, 83%, and 79%, respectively. The 5-year p-EFS values were 91% for B-cell, 87% for pre-B, 81% for ALCL, and 79% for T-cell NHL. The 12 patients with CNS involvement at diagnosis had a significantly poorer outcome than stage 4 patients with CNS involvement (p-EFS = 50% vs. 90%, P < 0.01). The 218 patients without CNS disease at diagnosis had a 5-year p-EFS of 88%. With modern intensive chemotherapy, more than 85% of NHL patients will achieve long-lasting first remission. In the future, preventing death during induction and remission and improving therapy for patients with CNS disease would have a major impact on the overall p-EFS.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2004 · Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The objectives of the present study were to determine the relationship between methotrexate (MTX) elimination time and various aspects of renal function and to evaluate the prognostic value of elevated serum MTX and creatinine for delayed MTX elimination. The majority of the 264 children were being treated for ALL. According to the NOPHO-92 protocol, 5 or 8 g MTX/m(2) was administered over 24 h. Serum creatinine was assessed daily. In 11 patients from one centre, renal function was studied in more detail using serum cystatin C, iohexol clearance, and urinary albumin, IgG and protein HC. Increased serum creatinine correlated significantly with the elimination time of MTX, whereas no indications were found of tubular or barrier function damage. Of the 1164 courses, 44 had delayed elimination of MTX (>/=120 h). Serum MTX >150 microM at the end of infusion had a sensitivity of 0.27 and a specificity of 0.94 to predict delayed MTX elimination, and >/=50% increase in serum creatinine during the first treatment day (creatinine ratio) had a sensitivity of 0.32 and a specificity of 0.99. The corresponding risk ratios were 5 and 19 for MTX >150 micro M and creatinine ratio, respectively. In courses with a normal elimination time (<72 h), 99% of the courses had a rise in serum creatinine of less than 50%. Elevation of serum creatinine by more than 50% is a better predictor of delayed elimination than the level of serum MTX at the end of MTX infusion, especially if information on previous creatinine measurements is used to reduce the impact of an occasionally low serum creatinine value before the start of the MTX infusion.
    No preview · Article · May 2003 · Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Thioguanine nucleotides (TGNs) mediate the cytotoxicity of mercaptopurine (MP). Methylated MP metabolites (formed by thiopurine methyltransferase [TPMT]) and methotrexate (MTX) polyglutamates can inhibit de novo purine synthesis. We explored whether dose adjustment of MP and MTX by erythrocyte (E) levels of TGN and MTX (including polyglutamates) could improve outcome in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). A total of 538 children with ALL were randomly assigned to have their oral MP/MTX maintenance therapy adjusted by white cell counts (WBC), E-TGN, and E-MTX (pharmacology group), or by WBC only (control group). After a median follow-up of 7.8 years, 79 patients had relapsed. Cox regression analysis showed an increased risk of relapse for boys (P =.00003), high WBC at diagnosis (P =.03), pharmacology arm (6.6 times increased relapse hazard for girls), high TPMT activity (P =.002), and high average neutrophil counts during maintenance therapy (P =.0009), with a significant interaction between sex and randomization group (P =.0007). For girls, the relapse risk was 5% in the control group and 19% in the pharmacology group (P =.001) because of an increased relapse hazard during the first year after cessation of therapy. TPMT activity was the most significant predictor of relapses among girls in the pharmacology arm (P <.0001). Overall, the TPMT activity was higher for patients who relapsed after cessation of therapy compared with those who stayed in remission (girls 19.5 v 17.4 U/mL, P =.03; boys 19.3 v 18.0 U/mL, P =.04). Adding pharmacologically guided treatment intensification to dose adjustments by blood counts may not be warranted for girls, whereas new approaches to optimize maintenance therapy are needed for boys.
    No preview · Article · May 2003 · Journal of Clinical Oncology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: From 1990 to 1997, 113 eligible patients with classical osteosarcoma received neo-adjuvant chemotherapy consisting of high-dose methotrexate, cisplatin and doxorubicin. Good histological responders continued to receive the same therapy postoperatively, while poor responders received salvage therapy with an etoposide/ifosfamide combination. With a median follow-up of 83 months, the projected metastasis-free and overall survival rates at 5 years are 63 and 74%, respectively. Independent favourable prognostic factors for outcome were tumour volume < 190 ml, 24-h serum methotrexate > 4.5 microM and female gender. The etoposide/ifosfamide replacement combination did not improve outcome in the poor histological responders. In conclusion, this intensive multi-agent chemotherapy results in > 70% of patients with classical osteosarcoma surviving for 5 years. The data obtained from this non-randomised study do not support discontinuation and exchange of all drugs used preoperatively in histological poor responders. As observed in previous Scandinavian osteosarcoma studies, female gender appears to be a strong predictor of a favourable outcome.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2003 · European Journal of Cancer

Publication Stats

2k Citations
178.21 Total Impact Points


  • 1992-2007
    • Karolinska Institutet
      Solna, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2003
    • Helsinki University Central Hospital
      • Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology
      Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finland
  • 1989
    • Karolinska University Hospital
      • Department of Clinical Pharmacology
      Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden