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Effects of Cancer Treatment in Children


Posted on Nov 21, 2013

Studies show that certain cancer treatments for children can have lasting negative effects on their health. Should parents try to avoid certain treatments for their children? Some kids face heart disease and other issues later in life.

Fox news reports on the consequences and issues surrounding child cancer treatment.

“Children who survive cancer treatment face increased heart health risk and should take measures soon after life-saving therapy to reduce the risk of serious problems later in life, according to research presented at a major medical meeting,” according to Fox.

Fox reports, “While earlier research had shown that childhood cancer survivors face heart disease and other potentially serious health problems decades after treatment, a new study found that chemotherapy takes a toll on artery health while survivors are still children, leaving them vulnerable to premature atherosclerosis and heart disease.” The lead author of the study told Fox, “We may need to start the clock earlier monitoring these children."

Scientists studied the arteries of children who had cancer treatment to determine how serious the condition could get. 

“Researchers used measures of the brachial and carotid arteries to test artery stiffness, thickness and function of 319 Americans ages 9 to 18 who had survived leukemia or other cancers, and compared the findings to 208 siblings not diagnosed with cancer. Signs of premature heart disease, demonstrated by a decline in artery function, was more prevalent among those children and teenagers who had survived cancer, researchers found. Childhood leukemia survivors had a 9 percent decrease in arterial health after completing chemotherapy compared with the non-cancer group,” according to Fox news.

The authors of the study state its important for parents to be aware of the fact that children need to make lifestyle changes in order to try to fight the heart problems associated with cancer treatment.

Fox reports, “Such changes would include a heart-healthy diet and regular exercise. However, more studies would be needed to assess whether blood vessel health can be improved by lifestyle changes in these survivors as has been shown in studies of childhood obesity. It may be that damage caused by chemotherapy cannot be reversed.”

 

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