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Eur J Endocrinol. 2013 Jan 17;168(2):281-8. doi: 10.1530/EJE-12-0702. Print 2013 Feb.

Long-term skeletal consequences of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia in adult males: a cohort study.

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Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolic Bone Diseases, Children's Hospital, Helsinki University Central Hospital, University of Helsinki, PO Box 281, FIN-00029 Helsinki, Finland.



Long-term health sequelae of childhood-onset acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) remain largely unknown. Low bone mineral content (BMC) and bone mineral density (BMD) are recognized complications, but it is unknown whether these persist until adulthood. We evaluated skeletal characteristics and their association with ALL therapy in long-term male ALL survivors.


This cross-sectional cohort study included 49 long-term male ALL survivors and 55 age-matched healthy males.


BMD and compression fractures were assessed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry; blood biochemistry was obtained for parameters of calcium homeostasis.


The ALL survivors (median age 29 years, range 25-38 years), assessed 10-38 years after ALL diagnosis, had lower lumbar spine (P<0.001), femoral neck (P<0.001), and whole-body (P=0.017) BMD than expected based on normative values. When compared with the controls (median age 30 years, range 24-36 years), the ALL survivors had lower lumbar spine BMC (P=0.014), lower whole-body BMC (P<0.001), and lower whole-body BMD (P<0.001), but the differences were partly explained by differences in height. Altogether, 20% of the ALL survivors had spinal compression fractures, but these were equally prevalent in the controls. Males diagnosed with ALL before age 5 years had significantly lower BMD values. Other recognized risk factors included untreated hypogonadism, vitamin D deficiency, hypophosphatemia, low IGF-binding protein-3, and low physical activity.


At young adulthood, long-term male ALL survivors have significantly reduced BMC and BMD and a high prevalence of spinal compression fractures. Careful follow-up and active treatment of the recognized risk factors are warranted.

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