People treated for leukemia in childhood could fall victims to other types of cancer later in their lives, say US researchers.
Early attention and prompt treatment could help children overcome leukemia, but they are 13.5 times more likely to develop other types of cancers than the general population.
The study, held at St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, involved 2169 people who were treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia as children and adolescents between 1962 and 1998.
The study showed that the occurrence of new cancer increased over 30 years of their leukemia treatment.
Among the 1290 patients who remained in complete remission, about 10 per cent developed other forms of cancer. There was also a relatively rapid increase starting 20 years after the original treatment.
Perhaps genetic factors as play a key role in this. But it is also possible that chemotherapy and radiation treatments used on childhood leukemia patients contributed to the increased risk.
One good news is that the childhood leukemia survivors in general developed only those types of cancer that responded well to treatment, like meningioma and basal cell carcinoma. But some yet others developed more serious cancers. And that is a cause for concern.
St. Jude's Dr. Nobuko Hijiya, who led the study, emphasized on the need to closely monitor the health of childhood cancer survivors for decades after their original treatment.