Risk of Metabolic Syndrome Increased in Survivors of Childhood Cancer

Early cardiovascular events are a risk for survivors of childhood cancer, according to a longitudinal study recently published in the Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology (doi:10.1089/jayao.2015.0036). This study advocated a unified definition of pediatric metabolic syndrome so it can better be diagnosed.

The term metabolic syndrome refers to a cluster of clinical and biochemical risk factors that indicate metabolic dysfunction, according to background information in the article. These risk factors are associated with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

As cancer recurrence decreases in childhood cancer survivors, it becomes increasingly important to address metabolic syndrome in these patients by preventing, stabilizing, or mitigating these metabolic complications.

Metabolic syndrome has been linked to the effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The single-center, retrospective, observational, longitudinal study analyzed data from 276 childhood cancer survivors at a single clinic in Sydney, Australia, who had been cancer-free for at least 5 years.

Hypertension was common in the survivors, occurring in 19% of them, or nearly 1 in 5. Rates were significantly higher in males 18 years or older.

The study also found that previous irradiation of the head is a risk factor for overweight/obesity.

The authors were collaborators from The Children's Hospital at Westmead and The University of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia, and from Linkoping University in Sweden.

Currently, metabolic health data cannot be compared across studies because a unified definition for metabolic syndrome is not established.

Developing an internationally accepted definition for pediatric metabolic syndrome should benefit childhood cancer survivors. The authors stated that an international definition “may rationalize metabolic health risk factor identification and promote early intervention in this at-risk population.”

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