For Childhood Survivors of Hodgkin Lymphoma, the Battle may not be Over

A recent article published in online CANCER NETWORK reports findings that indicate children who have survived Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) may develop solid tumors in later years. These findings will have an impact on current screening guidelines.

Data from 1,136 patients was analyzed by Smita Bhatia, MD, MPH and her team at the University of Alabama. Eligible subjects were Hodgkin lymphoma patients diagnosed between 1955 and 1986 and who were 17 or under at the time they were diagnosed.

The researchers discovered 162 patients who developed solid cancer tumors during a 26.6 year period. For the HL survivors diagnosed within a 40 year period, the percentage was to 26.4%. In comparison to the general population, survivors of childhood Hodgkin lymphoma were 14 times more likely to get a solid tumor cancer.

Risk Factors and Cause

By extending a previous study, Dr. Bhatia and team were able to examine patients from that study and determine which patients were at risk for new malignancies.

  • Risk factors for breast cancer are increased for females who had chest radiation after HL diagnosis between the ages of 10 and 16
  • Risk factors for lung cancer are increased in males if the patient received chest radiation for HL before the age of 10
  • Risk factors for colorectal cancer are increased considerably for HL survivors who had received radiation for pelvic/abdominal disorders plus aggressive alkylating agents
  • Risk factors thyroid cancer increases when women receive neck radiation prior to age 10.

Patients who have received radiation therapy are most vulnerable by age 50. This is especially true if it is related to colorectal, lung, or breast cancer.

Early Detection

Looking back at pediatric cancer treatment, HL has a history of high, early cure rates. That translates into a significant amount of information regarding risks in cancer therapy and what might cause subsequent cancers in HL survivors.

Dr. Bhatia explains that they were able to determine which subgroups are at risk and should be monitored and screened in an effort to detect new neoplasms, which are either a benign or malignant mass of abnormal tissue.

A similar comment was made by Robert Hayashi, MD, a professor of pediatrics at Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Dr. Hayashi is pleased that this particular study will add to the information that they already have concerning certain risks involved with cancer therapy.

Dr. Hayashi also points out that as people live longer thanks to improved treatment, he expects to see similar reports being published for other diseases.

In order to accomplish early detection, Dr. Hayashi explained that physicians must refer these survivors to facilities that have clinicians who are experienced in secondary cancers.

He emphasized that it is also necessary for patients to receive support, education and be well acquainted with their disease.



Rose Duesterwald

Rose Duesterwald

Rose became acquainted with Patient Worthy after her husband was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) six years ago. During this period of partial remission, Rose researched investigational drugs to be prepared in the event of a relapse. Her husband died February 12, 2021 with a rare and unexplained occurrence of liver cancer possibly unrelated to AML.

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