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Research findings underscore needed action to safeguard lungs of young cancer survivors
Date:4/15/2010

k also comes amid a continuing debate about how and for how long to monitor lung function in long-term cancer survivors.

Lung complications are a widely recognized side effect of bone marrow transplantation and cancer treatment. Difficulties include problems that affect the ability of the lungs to expand and contract, to replenish the blood's oxygen supply or to hold enough air. Decreased lung function and respiratory illness during childhood are tied to a higher risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) later in life. COPD is a leading U.S. killer.

This study involved 89 St. Jude patients, half of whom had undergone transplants nearly nine or more years earlier when they were ages 6 through 21. Their lung function was routinely tested, allowing researchers to track changes and identify risk factors, such as pre-existing lung problems or age, associated with a decline.

Those at elevated risk for long-term problems include older survivors who were nearly teenagers when they underwent transplants. "This group showed no sign of pulmonary recovery with extended follow-up," Inaba said. "The lung growth and/or repair could be associated with hormonal effects, and this process might not occur efficiently when damage occurs during puberty and adolescence."

Survivors who had abnormal lung function test results prior to transplants and who developed pneumonia or similarly serious respiratory problems in the year following transplants consistently scored worse on tests of their ability to inhale and exhale. The tests check for signs of restricted breathing and poor air flow, which are associated with a range of lung problems.

Others at higher risk for deteriorating lung function were survivors who also faced a greater risk of cancer relapse plus those whose transplant involved donor stem cells collected from circulating blood. Researchers expected a link between these two survivor groups and abnormal lung func
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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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