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Childhood cancer survivors' exposure to chemotherapy, radiation does not increase risk of birth defects in their children
Date:12/12/2011

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The researchers also noted that a strength of their study is the comparison they made to the children of other cancer survivors and not to the children of people randomly sampled from the general population. Signorello said that comparing cancer survivors to individuals in the general population can be difficult because the latter may not be as thorough in reporting health problems of their children, and the children of cancer survivors may be under heightened clinical surveillance and may appear to have higher rates of birth defects as a result. The investigators did, however, find that the overall prevalence of birth defects among the cancer survivors' children was very similar to what has been reported in the general population.

The study is among the largest to examine birth defects in children of childhood cancer survivors, and among the first to evaluate birth defects using medical records to validate both the children's health problems and the parents' radiation and chemotherapy exposures.

"The possibility of birth defects in offspring has been a lingering concern among cancer survivors because it's hard to address," Signorello said. "We know these are rare outcomes, and a large study group was needed to address these questions. It took years to validate the parents' self-reported outcomes, and to assemble and use the medical records of radiation and chemotherapy treatment exposures to allow us to quantify their exposure doses. These are the strongest results to date, adding greater certainty to other studies examining this common concern among survivors of childhood cancer."

The researchers would like to continue to sequence the DNA of families of childhood cancer survivors (survivors and their children) to see if there is any evidence of radiation- or chemical-induced genetic damage, even if the children did not have birth defects. They would also like to combine data from all U.S. and international studies on this topi
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Contact: Nicole Fernandes
nicole.fernandes@asco.org
571-483-1354
American Society of Clinical Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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