GI cancer screening should start early for childhood cancer survivors

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 11, 2012

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Childhood cancer survivors develop gastrointestinal cancers more often and at an earlier age than the general population, says a study published in the June 5 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

To help identify the disease early, the study encourages physicians to consider screening childhood cancer survivors for gastrointestinal cancers at an earlier age than is suggested for average-risk individuals. The Children’s Oncology Group, a National Cancer Institute supported clinical trials group, recommends that cancer survivors exposed to more than 30 Gy of abdominal radiation receive a colonoscopy at least every five years starting a decade after their radiation or at age 35, whichever is later. The oncology organization focuses on childhood and adolescent cancer research.

Researchers examined data on 14,358 cancer survivors who were younger than 21 when they were diagnosed with the disease between 1970 and 1986. Participants were treated in the U.S. and Canada and survived for at least five years after being diagnosed (link).They found survivors’ increased risk of developing gastrointestinal cancers started as early as 5½ years after being diagnosed with childhood cancer. The highest risks occurred among those who had Hodgkin’s lymphoma or Wilms’ tumor. Treatment with abdominal radiation, procarbazine and platinum-based chemotherapies also were associated with a particularly increased risk of developing gastrointestinal cancers.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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