This study involved nearly 1,100 patients: 898 long-term survivors of childhood cancers and 175 children newly diagnosed with cancer. These children were compared with more than 1,000 children who did not have cancer but who were examined for 683 physical abnormalities in the same way.
Children who had cancer also had more major and minor abnormalities, such as uneven limbs, broad hands or feet, prominent ears and curvature of the spine.
Just under 27 percent of cancer patients had one or more major abnormalities, compared with 15.5 percent of controls. There were two or more abnormalities present in 5.1 percent of patients versus 1.6 percent of controls; while three or more abnormalities were found in 0.9 percent of patients and no controls.
One or more minor anomalies were present in 65.1 percent of patients versus 56.2 percent of controls; two or more minor abnormalities were present in 32.8 percent of patients versus 22.1 percent of controls; while three or more such abnormalities were found in 15.2 percent of patients compared with 8.3 percent of controls.
Almost 4 percent of cancer patients had a clinical genetic syndrome and 14 different abnormalities were significantly linked with childhood cancer.
The mean ages of the two groups of participants were widely divergent, with cancer patients at 21.2 years and controls at 10.4 years, but the authors stated that they only looked at abnormalities that were not associated with a particular age.
All participants were white, eliminating the possibility that ethnicity influenced the prevalence of different cancers or different abnormalities.
"The importance of this is not necessarily in the clinical practice but rather in the fact that as we put this information together, you can then eventually link the actual genes that are involved in producing a particular abnormality and that -- in the long run, not in the
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