Cancer Survivors at Greater Risk for Osteoporosis; Learning of Problem Earlier May Lessen Complications Later in Life

Apr 27, 2001, 01:00 ET from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

    MEMPHIS, Tenn., April 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Survivors of childhood acute
 lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) are at a greater risk for developing
 osteoporosis, or reduced bone density, according research from St. Jude
 Children's Research Hospital(R).  The findings will be published in the May 1
 issue of "Leukemia."  The team, lead by Sue Kaste, D.O., found that 68 percent
 of the study group had a bone mineral density (BMD) below the median age and
 general population controls, and 14 percent of those patients fit the
 standardized criteria for osteoporosis.  The median age of the study
 participants was in the early to mid-20s.
     Osteoporosis is generally found in women of menopausal age.  Depending on
 the extent of bone loss, osteoporosis may be accompanied by pain, fracture or
 loss of height.  This study shows equivalent bone loss in women and men some
 30 years earlier than what is normally expected with osteoporosis patients.
     Since ALL is the most common form of childhood cancer, and since its
 survivability rate is reaching 80 percent, Kaste and her team are concerned
 for the long-term implications for this subset of the population.
     "When we consider the tremendous numbers of childhood cancer survivors
 that are growing yearly because of the success in treatments, bone density
 loss of this magnitude becomes significant," Kaste said.  "It's not only a
 personal problem for the individual patient and his or her family, but through
 sheer numbers, it has the potential to become a tremendous public health
 issue."
     Survivors of childhood ALL who suffer bone loss in their 20s or younger
 face potentially more severe and debilitating injuries as they age.
 Consequently, in addition to identifying the problem, Kaste and her team have
 created studies to evaluate the use of vitamin and mineral supplements given
 to survivors of childhood ALL after completing treatment.  Participants in
 these studies also receive dietary counseling and educational brochures
 outlining lifestyle practices to optimize bone mineralization.
     "There is a lot to be said for what our grandmothers taught us about
 drinking three glasses of milk each day," Kaste said.  "We figure that 70
 percent of the general adolescent population doesn't get the minimum daily
 requirement of calcium.  Take that factor and compound it on childhood
 survivors who have received multiple drugs, possibly cranial irradiation and
 altered nutrition during therapy because they don't feel well, and you have a
 problem."
     The researchers determined that the effective drug combination used to
 treat childhood ALL at St. Jude (prednisone, vincristine, daunorubicin,
 L-asparginase, etoposide and cytarabine), combined with higher doses of
 cranial irradiation lead to increased bone loss.  Patients receiving between
 lower doses of radiation demonstrated no less bone loss than patients not
 receiving cranial irradiation at all.  This finding leads researchers to
 believe that irradiation of the pituitary gland and hypothalamus, the areas
 responsible for growth and maturity, are adversely affected.  Children
 diagnosed with brain tumors may suffer the same problems, but this study
 focused only on survivors of childhood ALL.  St. Jude scientists are
 developing a similar study for brain tumor patients.
     St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, in Memphis, Tenn., was founded by
 the late entertainer Danny Thomas.  The hospital is an internationally
 recognized biomedical research center dedicated to finding cures for
 catastrophic diseases of childhood.  The hospital's work is supported through
 funds raised by the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities(R)
 (ALSAC(R)).  All St. Jude patients are treated regardless of their family's
 ability to pay.  ALSAC covers all costs of treatment beyond those reimbursed
 by third party insurers, and total costs for families who have no insurance.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X84398160
 
 

SOURCE St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
    MEMPHIS, Tenn., April 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Survivors of childhood acute
 lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) are at a greater risk for developing
 osteoporosis, or reduced bone density, according research from St. Jude
 Children's Research Hospital(R).  The findings will be published in the May 1
 issue of "Leukemia."  The team, lead by Sue Kaste, D.O., found that 68 percent
 of the study group had a bone mineral density (BMD) below the median age and
 general population controls, and 14 percent of those patients fit the
 standardized criteria for osteoporosis.  The median age of the study
 participants was in the early to mid-20s.
     Osteoporosis is generally found in women of menopausal age.  Depending on
 the extent of bone loss, osteoporosis may be accompanied by pain, fracture or
 loss of height.  This study shows equivalent bone loss in women and men some
 30 years earlier than what is normally expected with osteoporosis patients.
     Since ALL is the most common form of childhood cancer, and since its
 survivability rate is reaching 80 percent, Kaste and her team are concerned
 for the long-term implications for this subset of the population.
     "When we consider the tremendous numbers of childhood cancer survivors
 that are growing yearly because of the success in treatments, bone density
 loss of this magnitude becomes significant," Kaste said.  "It's not only a
 personal problem for the individual patient and his or her family, but through
 sheer numbers, it has the potential to become a tremendous public health
 issue."
     Survivors of childhood ALL who suffer bone loss in their 20s or younger
 face potentially more severe and debilitating injuries as they age.
 Consequently, in addition to identifying the problem, Kaste and her team have
 created studies to evaluate the use of vitamin and mineral supplements given
 to survivors of childhood ALL after completing treatment.  Participants in
 these studies also receive dietary counseling and educational brochures
 outlining lifestyle practices to optimize bone mineralization.
     "There is a lot to be said for what our grandmothers taught us about
 drinking three glasses of milk each day," Kaste said.  "We figure that 70
 percent of the general adolescent population doesn't get the minimum daily
 requirement of calcium.  Take that factor and compound it on childhood
 survivors who have received multiple drugs, possibly cranial irradiation and
 altered nutrition during therapy because they don't feel well, and you have a
 problem."
     The researchers determined that the effective drug combination used to
 treat childhood ALL at St. Jude (prednisone, vincristine, daunorubicin,
 L-asparginase, etoposide and cytarabine), combined with higher doses of
 cranial irradiation lead to increased bone loss.  Patients receiving between
 lower doses of radiation demonstrated no less bone loss than patients not
 receiving cranial irradiation at all.  This finding leads researchers to
 believe that irradiation of the pituitary gland and hypothalamus, the areas
 responsible for growth and maturity, are adversely affected.  Children
 diagnosed with brain tumors may suffer the same problems, but this study
 focused only on survivors of childhood ALL.  St. Jude scientists are
 developing a similar study for brain tumor patients.
     St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, in Memphis, Tenn., was founded by
 the late entertainer Danny Thomas.  The hospital is an internationally
 recognized biomedical research center dedicated to finding cures for
 catastrophic diseases of childhood.  The hospital's work is supported through
 funds raised by the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities(R)
 (ALSAC(R)).  All St. Jude patients are treated regardless of their family's
 ability to pay.  ALSAC covers all costs of treatment beyond those reimbursed
 by third party insurers, and total costs for families who have no insurance.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X84398160
 
 SOURCE  St. Jude Children's Research Hospital