Stories about: Lynda Vrooman

Increased autoimmunity risk among childhood cancer survivors?

 

girl doctor exam childhood cancer survivor
(Syda Productions/Shutterstock)

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.”

Read more about the study on Medscape.

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The time is now: Reducing the toxicity of cancer treatment

infusion pump chemotherapy cancer treatment survivorship
(Pruit Phatsrivong/Shutterstock)

Looking back over the last half a century—maybe not even that long—one can see how the conversation about treatment in pediatric oncology has evolved. It used to be that survival rate was the primary, maybe only, concern among pediatric oncologists. How can we help more children and achieve more cures?

Fast forward to today. With experience and experiment has come greater knowledge of the biology underlying many solid, neurological and hematologic malignancies. That knowledge has, in turn, opened opportunities to reduce the long-term toxicity of cancer treatment and improve survivorship along with survival. How can we help more children survive, and survive better?

“These discussions are no longer in the background. They’re right up front,” says Elizabeth Mullen, MD, of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center‘s Solid Tumor Center. “There’s much more focus on avoiding late toxicities because of the success rates that we see. It’s so much more of how we think now, even when we’re treating high-risk disease. It’s always part of the conversation.”

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