CHICAGO—Survivors of childhood cancers are at an increased risk of another battle with cancer later in life, according to new research published online in June by the Annals of Internal Medicine. In the largest study to date of risk for gastrointestinal (GI) cancers among people first diagnosed with cancer before the age of 21, researchers found that childhood cancer survivors develop these malignancies at a rate nearly five times that of the general population.
While there was some preliminary evidence that childhood cancer survivors develop GI cancers more often and at an earlier age than the general population, this is the first study focused on a range of pediatric cancers with examination of detailed treatment information including chemotherapy and radiation exposures.
Researchers led by Tara Henderson, MD, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics and director of the Childhood Cancer Survivors Center at the University of Chicago Medicine, examined 14,358 survivors of Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, neuroblastoma, soft tissue sarcoma, Wilms tumor or bone cancer. They found that survivors were developing secondary GI cancers as soon as five and a half years after a primary cancer diagnosis.
“Due to advancements in therapies, we now have a burgeoning population of childhood cancer survivors," Henderson said. “Sufferers of once nearly unequivocal deadly diseases are thriving well into adulthood. Unfortunately, it appears that for some the impact of cancer therapy along with, in some cases, inherent genetic propensity may set the stage for a second cancer diagnosis. It’s an important finding that will hopefully allow us to identify at-risk patients and implement better surveillance in clinical practice."