Endocrine Disorder Risk in Childhood Cancer Survivors
The study authors state that survival rates of children with cancer have increased in the past 40 years. However, they argue that this has been accompanied by serious late effects in the patients’ endocrine systems in adulthood. The goal of the present study was to understand the cumulative incidence of endocrine health problems in long-term childhood cancer survivors.
The study, “Endocrine health conditions in adult survivors of childhood cancer: The need for specialized adult-focused follow-up clinics,” was published online ahead of print in December 2012. It appears in the European Journal of Endocrinology.
The researchers looked at data on 310 adults. The participants were followed for a median time of 16 years following their initial cancer diagnosis. Patients were monitored for different factors based on their cancer diagnosis, and previous treatments received.
The results of the study showed that the cumulative incidence of endocrine disorders increased as the participants aged. By the final follow-up, approximately 48% of women and 63% of men experienced at least one endocrine disorder. The most common endocrine diseases included gonadal dysfunction, growth hormone deficiency, and primary hypothyroidism.
Factors that increased a childhood cancer survivor’s risk of developing an endocrine disorder were being male, having radiotherapy or hematopoietic stem cells transplantation, and being older when first diagnosed with cancer. In particular, being male was associated with a higher prevalence of gonadal disorders, while radiotherapy was associated with a higher risk of growth hormone deficiency and thyroid problems.
The researchers conclude that childhood cancer survivors have a heightened prevalence of endocrine disorders. They also state that the risk for developing these conditions increases over time. The study authors argue that this signals the need for endocrinologists to be well prepared to address the care needs of adult cancer survivors.