After Battling Cancer, Survivors Should Keep an Eye Out for Endocrine Disease, According to One Study

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A recently published study found that, out of the people studied, young cancer survivors were more likely to develop endocrine diseases than people who had no history of cancer. The original study can be found here at JAMA Network Open.

About Endocrine Disease

The endocrine system involves several major glands in the body that produce hormones, including the thyroid gland, adrenal gland, pituitary gland, and pancreas. The effects of the endocrine system hormones are wide-ranging and include alterations to growth, mood, temperature, reproduction, and metabolism. Endocrine diseases occur when this system doesn’t work properly, which can happen if the levels of certain hormones are too high or low, or if the body doesn’t respond to them properly.

The Study Method

Researchers wanted to investigate whether adolescent and young adult cancer survivors were more likely to go on to develop endocrine diseases. To carry out the study they used data from a Danish population group in which patients were each followed for some period between 1976 and 2009, for a total of 2,958,994 person-years. The group contained 32,548 one-year cancer survivors who were diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 39. The second group of 188,728 people who were cancer-free were also included as a comparison.

The Results

After analysing the data from these two groups, the researchers concluded that young adult cancer survivors have a 73% increased risk of endocrine disease compared to the cancer-free control group. In total, 2,129 (6.5%) of the cancer survivors visited a hospital for an endocrine disease, which is significantly higher than the expected number of 1,232 (3.8%). Some of the most common endocrine diseases reported were thyroid disease, diabetes, and testicular dysfunction.

Based on these results, the study authors concluded that adolescent and young adult cancer survivors may have a raised risk of developing endocrine diseases, which “indicates the need for counselling and follow-up.” However, more research is needed to corroborate this study and better understand the links between cancer, cancer treatments, and endocrine disease.


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