By Kate Vidinsky, UCSF News Office | May 20, 2011
Individuals who are treated for cancer during childhood have a significantly higher risk of developing gastrointestinal (GI) complications -- from mild to severe -- later in life, according to a study led by the University of California, San Francisco. The findings underscore the need for childhood cancer survivors and their physicians to be aware of these risk factors to ensure patients' ongoing health care needs are met.
"We have, in a relatively short period of time, made remarkable progress in treating pediatric cancer, which has resulted in a growing population of childhood cancer survivors," said lead author Robert Goldsby, MD, a pediatric cancer specialist at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital and director of the UCSF Survivors of Childhood Cancer Program. "While we know that many cancer therapies can cause gastrointestinal problems in patients at the time of treatment, this is the first major study to examine long-term GI complications in childhood cancer survivors."
The study appears in the May 2011 issue of Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association Institute.
About one in 500 young adults in the United States is a survivor of childhood cancer. Using data from the multicenter Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, the researchers evaluated the frequency of self-reported GI problems in 14,358 patients who had been treated for different types of cancer -- leukemia, brain tumors, lymphoma, Wilms tumor, neuroblastoma, sarcomas or bone tumors -- and survived at least five years following treatment.