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Acta Paediatr Suppl. 1999 Dec;88(433):5-12.

Survivors of childhood cancer: long-term endocrine and metabolic problems dwarf the growth disturbance.

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  • 1Department of Endocrinology, Christie Hospital, Manchester, UK.


The long-term effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy are becoming increasingly recognized as the cure rates of certain childhood malignancies improve. The endocrine system is particularly sensitive to cancer therapies. Long-term survivors of childhood cancer who received cranial irradiation have been shown to have lower than predicted height, an increased prevalence of obesity and reductions in strength, exercise tolerance, bone mineral density, quality of life and academic achievement. Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is the most frequent endocrine deficiency observed following cranial irradiation. Adults with GHD resulting from primary hypothalamic-pituitary disease during childhood have been shown to exhibit a clinical picture similar to that described in long-term survivors of childhood cancer: increased fat mass and reduced lean mass, strength, exercise tolerance, bone mineral density and quality of life. This review considers the possible contribution of GHD to the adverse sequelae observed in long-term survivors of childhood malignancy and includes our preliminary experience in treating 14 adults with GHD resulting from the treatment of childhood malignancies.

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