Adult survivors of childhood leukemia have lower bone mineral density, study finds

December 3, 2008,

Men who survived childhood leukemia treatment into adulthood were more likely to have low bone mineral density than other adults their age, putting them at risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures, according to a new study.

The study, led by James G. Gurney, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, found that 24 percent of the 74 survivors studied had abnormally low bone mineral density, a measure of the strength of bones. The average age of the survivors was 30, and they had been treated an average of 24 years ago for the most common type of childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

According to the World Health Organization, 11 percent of 30-year-old men and 19 percent of 30-year-old women on average have low bone mineral density, a condition known as osteopenia. In this study, published Dec. 1 in the journal Cancer, 36 percent of men and 16 percent of women had low bone mineral density.

"Evaluations of bone health in childhood cancer survivors have only recently been noted as a concern. Routine monitoring has not yet become the standard of care for all survivors. Studies such as this one stress the importance of monitoring for bone health in these survivors, particularly since there may be some simple interventions, such as vitamin D and calcium, that may be beneficial," says study lead author Inas Thomas, M.D., an endocrinology fellow in the Department of Pediatrics at the U-M Medical School.

Low bone mineral density can progress to osteoporosis, a bone disorder common in older adults that can lead to fractures.

The researchers found that male survivors were more likely than female survivors to have lower bone mineral density, and shorter men and women were also more likely to have weaker bones.

The researchers also looked at levels of growth hormones, which are known to be affected by leukemia treatment. Low growth hormone levels and low levels of another hormone called IGF-1 can contribute to poor bone health, but that they are not the only factors involved. The researchers believe the disease itself or the treatments such as radiation – particularly radiation to the brain – and chemotherapy may affect bone growth.

"Survivors with known growth hormone deficiency or insufficiency should definitely be screened, but we would argue that all adult survivors should be screened as well. The disease, chemotherapy and cranial radiation – even if they do not lead to growth hormone deficiency – may play a role in the development of osteopenia or osteoporosis," Thomas says.

Source: University of Michigan

Explore further: High-tech imaging could reveal mysteries of bone damage in kids with chronic disease

Related Stories

High-tech imaging could reveal mysteries of bone damage in kids with chronic disease

January 23, 2018
Kyla Kent had just finished conducting CT scans of bones in a 10-year-old boy's forearm and lower leg. Walking him back to the waiting room, she asked how he wanted to explain the images to his mom.

Keep on exercising, researchers advise older breast cancer survivors

December 9, 2013
To build and maintain muscle strength, it is best for older breast cancer survivors to follow an ongoing exercise program of resistance and impact training. This advice comes from Jessica Dobek of the Oregon Health and Science ...

Improved risk recognition expected to enhance fertility preservation for cancer patients

July 5, 2017
About 11 percent of females who survive childhood cancer have an ovarian condition that leaves them at risk for infertility, weaker bones and frail health as young adults, according to research from St. Jude Children's Research ...

Survivors of childhood cancer at risk for developing hormone deficiencies as adults

February 13, 2015
Decades after undergoing cranial irradiation for childhood cancer, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital investigators found that adult survivors of pediatric cancer remain at risk for pituitary hormone deficiencies that ...

Researcher examines effect of exercise on breast cancer survivors

January 18, 2017
A researcher at Syracuse University has simple advice for breast cancer survivors struggling with the side effects of Aromatase Inhibitors (AIs): exercise.

Antenatal betamethasone doesn't impact pediatric bone mass

April 7, 2017
(HealthDay)—Exposure to repeat doses of antenatal betamethasone is not associated with alterations in bone mass in mid-childhood compared with a single course of glucocorticoids, according to a study published online April ...

Recommended for you

Stem cell vaccine immunizes lab mice against multiple cancers

February 15, 2018
Stanford University researchers report that injecting mice with inactivated induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) launched a strong immune response against breast, lung, and skin cancers. The vaccine also prevented relapses ...

Induced pluripotent stem cells could serve as cancer vaccine, researchers say

February 15, 2018
Induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, are a keystone of regenerative medicine. Outside the body, they can be coaxed to become many different types of cells and tissues that can help repair damage due to trauma or ...

Team paves the way to the use of immunotherapy to treat aggressive colon tumors

February 15, 2018
In a short space of time, immunotherapy against cancer cells has become a powerful approach to treat cancers such as melanoma and lung cancer. However, to date, most colon tumours appeared to be unresponsive to this kind ...

Can our genes help predict how women respond to ovarian cancer treatment?

February 15, 2018
Research has identified gene variants that play a significant role in how women with ovarian cancer process chemotherapy.

First comparison of common breast cancer tests finds varied accuracy of predictions

February 15, 2018
Commercially-available prognostic breast cancer tests show significant variation in their abilities to predict disease recurrence, according to a study led by Queen Mary University of London of nearly 800 postmenopausal women.

Catching up to brain cancer: Researchers develop accurate model of how aggressive cancer cells move and spread

February 15, 2018
A brief chat at a Faculty Senate meeting put two University of Delaware researchers onto an idea that could be of great value to cancer researchers.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.