Survivors of pediatric cancer can face many increased risks — second cancers, heart disease, fertility loss, etc. — depending on the kind of cancer they were treated for and the treatments that were used.
A study out of Lund University in Sweden suggests one more for the list: autoimmunity. In a paper in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, researchers report that cancer registry data from three Scandinavian countries reveal an average 40 percent increase in the risk of autoimmune diseases among childhood cancer survivors. For some cancers, the risk increase was upwards of 60 percent.
“I think this paper raises this issue as one for awareness in the clinical setting and for future study,” said Lynda Vrooman, MD, a pediatric oncologist and cancer survivorship specialist with the Hematologic Malignancy Center at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. “There are not, that I am familiar with, currently guidelines that inform recommendations for screening for autoimmune disorder in survivors or current clear strategies for reducing risk. This paper raises this as an issue for awareness moving forward and for further investigation.”