AN 11-YEAR-OLD girl who has battled a rare and aggressive cancer for a year has been told her condition has significantly improved.

Doctors at Leeds General Infirmary said biopsies on Gaby Alderson's bone marrow had revealed only a small amount of neuroblastoma cells remained following the schoolgirl, of South Otterington, near Northallerton, starting the Beacon drugs trial in June.

The trial, which around 30 youngsters in Britain with recurring or resistant neuroblastoma are undertaking, aims to find the best chemotherapy regime.

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Doctors also said a scan of her primary tumour was clear and are examining what is left of it.

Her mother, Vicki, a former North Yorkshire Police project manager, said the announcement that Gaby, who is excited about start secondary school next month after attending only a quarter of her lessons last year, was nearing remission had been a massive boost.

She said: "There have been two tests at a time on Gaby's bone marrow, and this is the first time that the liquid test has come back clear, while the tissue test came back with a tiny cluster of neuroblastoma cells.

"She never had good news until she started the trial."

Mrs Alderson said Gaby had been able to enjoy a trip with her brother, Maxwell, to The Deep aquarium in Hull yesterday (Wednesday, August 27).

She said while her daughter's condition had improved, she remained acutely aware that 80 per cent of children with neuroblastoma of Gaby's age who go into remission relapse within two years.

She said: "We want to get Gaby to remission and to keep her in remission for as long as possible."

Gaby's aunt, Louise, said it was vital the £500,000 fundraising campaign to finance treatment unavailable on the NHS in the event that Gaby relapses, continued and that it needed to be available ahead of the relapse treatment.

She said: "Even though we can get her into remission, the fundraising is about what is around the corner."

Appeal organisers said the response to a major fundraising event, a black tie dinner-dance at The Golden Lion Hotel, in Northallerton, on Saturday, September 20, from 7pm, had been slow as supporters had been on holiday.

The event, which is being supported by the Neuroblastoma Children’s Cancer Alliance, will feature live music by five-piece band Sugartown, reception drinks and a raffle with prizes such as spa days and holidays.

A spokeswoman said: "We are trying to gain momentum as we are not selling as many tickets for the event as we want to."

For tickets, costing £40, call 01609-777411.