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Childhood cancer survivors are at high risk for multiple tumors as they age
Date:6/27/2011

or prevent late effects. St. Jude is the study's central coordinating institution. St. Jude scientists are also focused on using genomics and other tools to develop the next generation of cancer therapies and better match patients with existing therapy to increase cures but decrease the risk of treatment-related toxicities, including second cancers.

In this study, half of the participants had survived at least 23 years since their childhood cancers were found. Their median age was 32 years old, meaning most had yet to reach the age when rates of prostate, breast and other cancers increase sharply in the general population.

Almost 70 percent of study participants received radiation as part of their successful childhood cancer treatment. This study reinforced earlier research that linked radiation therapy with an increased risk of developing additional tumors, malignant and benign, later in life. Female survivors whose childhood cancer treatment included radiation were among those at highest risk for later tumors, particularly breast tumors.

For 735 survivors, the second tumors were malignant and thus life-threatening.

Risks were also associated with benign tumors. Investigators showed survivors whose second tumor was a non-melanoma skin cancer had a 1 in 5 chance of being diagnosed with another, more aggressive cancer within 15 years. The group included 485 survivors with either basal or squamous cell skin cancers. "These survivors are candidates for additional genetic evaluation to look for an underlying genetic propensity for tumor development or an inability to protect healthy cells against the harmful effects of radiation," Armstrong said.

Of the 176 survivors whose second tumors were found in the breast, 42 women developed multiple tumors. For many, researchers reported that the tumors apparently developed independently in both breasts almost simultaneously. "This finding reinforces previous reports of multiple brea
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Contact: Summer Freeman
summer.freeman@stjude.org
901-595-3061
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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