16 April 2010

Research Findings Underscore Needed Action To Safeguard Lungs Of Young Cancer Survivors

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St. Jude Children's Research Hospital investigators have identified childhood cancer survivors who are at increased risk for deteriorating lung health, in part due to the lifesaving bone marrow transplants they underwent years earlier

The findings underscore the need for long-term monitoring and early intervention, particularly in high-risk survivors, as well as additional health education, researchers said. Among the measures investigators recommend survivors take to protect their lungs are avoiding tobacco smoke and air pollution as well as undergo immunization against influenza and pneumonia.

The study is the most comprehensive look yet at the long-term lung function of childhood leukemia survivors whose treatment included replacing their own blood-producing stem cells, known as hematopoietic stem cells, with healthy donor cells. The work appears in the April 15 edition of the journal Cancer.

The results are expected to help physicians identify leukemia patients at increased risk for post-transplant lung problems and to adjust treatment in preparation for their transplants. The goal is to cure the cancer and minimize long-term treatment complications.

"These survivors are still young; most are still under age 30. In some cases, their lung function has continued to deteriorate, but they do not yet have symptoms of chronic respiratory problems. Our goal is to prevent that from happening," explained Hiroto Inaba, M.D., Ph.D., the study's lead author and assistant member in the St. Jude Department of Oncology.

The good news is that less than 8 percent of survivors in this study had asthma, chronic coughs or other chronic breathing problems. But investigators are concerned about the 64 percent of patients who scored in the abnormal range on at least one of the nine tests that measured how well their lungs were working.

(Medical News Today)

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