Childhood cancer survivors face long-term risk of GI complications, study finds

Oct 22, 2010

People treated for cancer when they were children have a higher-than-average risk of gastrointestinal problems – some mild, some quite severe – in the years following treatment, according to a study to be presented at the 42nd Congress of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) in Boston on Sunday, Oct. 24. Investigators at Dana-Farber/Children's Hospital Cancer Center and their colleagues say their findings suggest that childhood cancer survivors and their physicians should be especially aware of the increased likelihood of gastrointestinal troubles and factor them into plans for monitoring survivors' health.

"Current treatments have dramatically increased survival rates for children with , but we know that many cancer therapies – including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy – can cause significant gastrointestinal [GI] complications for patients," says the study's senior author, Lisa Diller, MD, director of the Perini Family Survivors Center at Dana-Farber. "Little is known, however, about the long-term GI consequences for survivors."

To identify such delayed effects, researchers searched for instances of upper GI (esophageal, stomach) problems, liver disorders, and lower GI (intestinal) problems in 14,358 participants in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, which tracks the health of children diagnosed with cancer between 1970 and 1986 who survived at least five years after treatment. Rates of GI disorders in these survivors were compared to rates in a randomly selected group of their siblings.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
People treated for cancer when they were children have a higher-than-average risk of gastrointestinal problems -- some mild, some quite severe -- in the years following treatment, according to a Dana-Farber/ Children’s Hospital Cancer Center study. Credit: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Most of the survivors had received chemotherapy, and about a third had received radiation and/or chemotherapy. Researchers found that the survivors had an elevated risk for upper GI complications such as ulcers, indigestion, heartburn, esophagus problems, nausea, and vomiting; for liver conditions such as cirrhosis, gallstones, and jaundice (and were 24 percent more likely than siblings to have needed a liver biopsy); and for lower GI problems such as colitis, constipation, diarrhea, and intestinal polyps or blockage. In general, survivors who were diagnosed at an older age and had more intensive radiation and/or chemotherapy and more extensive surgery had higher rates of these complications.

These increased risks make it important for survivors to inform their physicians of their earlier cancer treatment, and for physicians to consider whether GI problems are symptoms of a more serious disease in these patients, Diller states. In recent years, pediatric oncologists have worked to develop lower-dose treatments and less invasive surgical procedures to reduce the long-term consequences of childhood cancer therapy, she adds.

Explore further: Team identifies source of most cases of invasive bladder cancer

Provided by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

U of MN study finds children with leukemia are living longer

Dec 11, 2006

More than 90 percent of children and young adults who survive five years or longer after diagnosis and treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are alive 20 years later and leading productive lives, according to a University ...

Recommended for you

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

6 hours ago

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

Unraveling the 'black ribbon' around lung cancer

Apr 17, 2014

It's not uncommon these days to find a colored ribbon representing a disease. A pink ribbon is well known to signify breast cancer. But what color ribbon does one think of with lung cancer?

User comments : 0

More news stories

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Low tolerance for pain? The reason may be in your genes

Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual ...

Growing app industry has developers racing to keep up

Smartphone application developers say they are challenged by the glut of apps as well as the need to update their software to keep up with evolving phone technology, making creative pricing strategies essential to finding ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.