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Childhood cancer survivors 'at higher risk of further tumours'

Tuesday 28th June 2011
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Childhood cancer survivors are at a higher risk for developing multiple tumours as they age, according to new research.

Research conducted at St Jude Children's Research Hospital revealed that 9.6 per cent of childhood cancer survivors developed new tumours which were unrelated to their original cancers.

Approximately 30 per cent of survivors of the second tumour developed a third, while around 153 out of the 14,358 people in the study experienced four or more tumours, according to results from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study.

Around half of participants had survived at least 23 years since the discovery of their childhood cancer.

The median age of participants was 32, meaning that most had yet to reach the point where age becomes a factor in the risk of cancers, including prostrate and breast cancer.

Moreover, around 70 per cent of individuals who took part in the study had received radiation as part of their successful childhood cancer therapy, underlining previous research which found radiation therapy to be associated with an increased risk of additional tumours later in life.

Women whose treatment had included radiation were seen to be at the highest risk for further tumours, especially in the breast area.

Principal investigator Gregory Armstrong said: "These findings show that when you describe adult survivors of childhood cancer it is not sufficient to describe their risk of a first subsequent cancer, but to acknowledge that some of these patients are at risk for multiple cancers. This is the first study to more fully enumerate that risk."

Meanwhile, researchers at Duke University have gained a new insight into how cancer spreads throughout the body.

New proteins contained in cancer cells in the blood were identified in the study, published in journal Molecular Cancer Research.

These proteins could potentially be screened to improve prognostic tests and suggest therapy targets, according to the authors.

Written by Mathew Horton

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