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Cancer. 2008 Dec 1;113(11):3248-56. doi: 10.1002/cncr.23912.

Bone mineral density in young adult survivors of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.



The purpose of the current study was to determine the prevalence of low bone mineral density (BMD) (ie, osteopenia) and identify factors associated with low BMD in young adult survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).


Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry was used to evaluate BMD in 74 randomly selected, long-term childhood ALL survivors initially treated in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. Growth hormone (GH)-releasing hormone-arginine stimulation testing was conducted to evaluate peak GH level, and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and other markers of endocrine functioning were also evaluated in relation to BMD.


The mean age at the time of interview was 30 years, and the mean time since diagnosis was 24 years. Low BMD (Z-score, < or = -1) was present in 24% of subjects, including 1 with osteoporosis. Low BMD was substantially more prevalent in men than in women and was strongly associated with short height. The mean height Z-score for those with low BMD was -1.44, compared with a height Z-score of -0.39 (P < .01) for those with normal BMD. GH insufficiency, low IGF-I Z-score, and current smoking were also suggestive risk factors for low BMD.


In this long-term follow-up study of childhood ALL survivors, low BMD was found to be more prevalent than expected based on population normative data, specifically in men. The health consequences of early-onset BMD problems in childhood ALL survivors need to be carefully monitored.

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