THURSDAY, July 22 (HealthDay News) -- Women who are childhood cancer survivors face a greater risk of having a stillborn child if their uterus or ovaries were exposed to radiation during their treatments, a new study finds.
Although neither boys nor girls who survived childhood cancer appear to suffer genetic damage that might affect their offspring, radiation damage to the uterus makes it as much as 12 times more likely that infants will be stillborn or die shortly after birth, the researchers said.
"Children who have been treated for cancer have a high probability of long-term cure," said lead researcher John Boice Jr., science director at the International Epidemiology Institute in Rockville, Md.
"In fact, they do live into the ages in life where they can have children, and they want to have children," he said. "Cancer survivors and their doctors need to be cautious and concerned with young girls treated before puberty that pregnancy might entail a very high risk of having a stillborn child and so there should be careful management and care of that patient."
Typical childhood cancers when radiation would be directed at the pelvis include lymphoma, leukemia and Wilm's tumor, which is a type of kidney cancer, Boice said.
The report is published in the July 23 online edition of The Lancet.
For the study, Boice's team collected data on 1,148 male and 1,657 female childhood cancer survivors who were included in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, which covers 25 institutions in the United States and one in Canada.
The researchers found that radiation of the testes in boys and the pituitary gland in girls, as well as chemotherapy of those areas, did not increase the risk of having a stillborn infant.
However, radiation therapy that included the uterus and ovaries increased the risk ninefold for having a stillbirth and infant death shortly a
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