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J Clin Oncol. 1998 Dec;16(12):3752-60.

Bone mass after treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia in childhood.

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Section of Paediatric Haematology, The Juliane Marie Centre, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.



To study bone mass after childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and determine if reduced bone mass is related to previous therapy or endocrine status at follow-up.


We studied 95 survivors of childhood ALL who were in first remission a median of 11 years (range, 3 to 23 years) after diagnosis and who had never been irradiated outside a cranial field. The bone mass was measured by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. The results were compared with data on 396 local controls.


Adjusted for sex and age, the mean whole-body bone mineral content (BMC) and bone mineral areal density (BMDA) were both significantly reduced (0.4 SDs less than the predicted mean value). This was mainly caused by reduced bone mass in the 33 participants who were aged 19 years or older at follow-up. In these young adults, the mean height for age, bone area for height, and BMC for bone area were all significantly reduced. This indicated that the reduced whole-body bone mass was caused by both reduced bone size and reduced size-adjusted bone mass. Reduced bone size was related to previous cranial irradiation. Reduced size-adjusted bone mass was not significantly related to age at diagnosis or at follow-up, length of follow-up, cranial irradiation, cumulative dose of methotrexate or corticosteroids, or endocrine status at follow-up.


The whole-body bone mass was reduced 11 years after diagnosis of childhood ALL. If these abnormalities remain, survivors of childhood ALL will have an increased risk for osteoporotic fractures later in life.

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