Survivors of childhood cancer at increased risk of hormonal disturbances
At Aarhus University Hospital, teenagers with cancer have a special facility for relaxing and enjoying their interests (photo: Tonny Foghmar, Aarhus University Hospital).
The treatment of children with cancer has improved remarkably in the last 40 years and today approximately 80% are cured.
However, a new large Nordic study showed that many survivors of childhood cancer experience late chronic disturbances in the production of hormones. The results have just been published in the esteemed medical journal The Lancet.
The journal’s editorial describes the study as significant for our understanding of the late consequences of curative treatment in childhood cancer and is important for future research and treatment.
The group of researchers Adult Life after Childhood Cancer in Scandinavia (ALICCS, www.aliccs.org) consists of researchers from the Danish Cancer Society and Aarhus University Hospital.
The group of researchers has managed to follow more than 30,000 young people below the age of 20 years with a cancer diagnosis.
The study showed that many of the young cancer survivors have later been admitted to hospital due to reduced function of the thyroid gland, the pancreas, the pituitary gland, the ovaries or testicles.
Overall, the risk of these complications is five-fold increased compared to the general population.
The risk depends on the type of cancer. The highest risk is linked to treatment for leukemia, brain tumours or Hodgkin Lymphoma.
- Problems related to hormone production will rarely be life-threatening but they can cause fertility problems, metabolic disturbances, fatigue or overweight. It is therefore important that survivors of childhood cancer are followed to monitor these possible complications, says Henrik Hasle, Professor in Paediatric Cancer at Aarhus University and Consultant at Aarhus University Hospital.
Today, there are special clinics focusing on late consequences of childhood cancer at most of the larger specialised hospitals and also at Aarhus University Hospital
The results are published in the article:
Sofie de Fine Licht, Jeanette Falck Winther, Thorgerdur Gudmundsdottir, Anna Sällfors Holmqvist, Trine Gade Bonnesen, Peter Haubjerg Asdahl, Laufey Tryggvadottir, Harald Anderson, Finn Wesenberg, Nea Malila, Kirsten Holm, Henrik Hasle, Jørgen Helge Olsen, on behalf of the ALiCCS study group. Hospital contacts for endocrine disorders in Adult Life after Childhood Cancer in Scandinavia (ALiCCS): a population-based cohort. Lancet 2014; 383: 1981-9. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62564-7
Henrik Hasle, Professor in Paediatric Cancer, Aarhus University and Consultant at Aarhus University Hospital. Tel.: +45 78 45 14 26.