A new study says that survivors of childhood Hodgkin's Lymphoma are at a greater risk of developing another cancer or cardiovascular disease.
The study conducted on 1,927 Hodgkin's survivors found that treatments for the disease are associated with increased risk of dying from a second cancer or cardiovascular disease.
"The bottom-line message is that a portion of those who survive Hodgkin's Lymphoma continue to have significant health needs beyond their five-year 'cure' mark," said Sharon Castellino, a pediatric oncologist and assistant professor of pediatrics at Brenner Children's Hospital, part of Wake Forest Baptist.
"Survivors and their doctors need to be aware of continued risks in adulthood from treatment received more than 20 years ago," she added.
Hodgkin's Lymphoma is a growth of malignant cells in the lymph system, which is part of the immune system. The disease is one of the more curable cancers. The disease most commonly occurs in the chest and its treatment involves radiation therapy of the neck and upper chest and/or chemotherapy.
The study involved adults who were diagnosed with the disease between 1970 and 1986 at a median age of 14 years.
The findings showed that there have been 320 deaths in the group with 30 percent due to recurrence, 26 percent to a second cancer and 19 percent to a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke.
Among males, increased risk of premature death was associated with higher doses of chemotherapy regimens that included anthracycline drugs.
In female five-year survivors, all doses of radiation therapy were associated with a higher risk of premature death.
"It hadn't been clarified until this study that there was a different pattern of risks in men and women.
"Other than a recurrence of the original cancer, the leading cause of death in women is breast cancer and for men it is cardiovascular events," she added.
Since the 1980s, radiation therapy doses have been lowered in children with the goal of successfully treating the disease without causing undue side effects from the treatment.
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.