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Cancer Health Center

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Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Late Effects of the Musculoskeletal System


Also, cranial radiation therapy damages the hypothalamic-pituitary axis (HPA) in an age- and dose-response fashion, often leading to growth hormone deficiency (GHD).[14,15] If untreated during the growing years, and sometimes, even with appropriate treatment, this leads to a substantially lower final height. Patients with a central nervous system (CNS) tumor [14,16] or acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) [17,18,19] treated with 18 Gy or more of cranial radiation therapy are at highest risk. Also, patients treated with total-body irradiation (TBI), particularly single-fraction TBI, are at risk of GHD.[20,21,22,23] In addition, if the spine is also irradiated (e.g., craniospinal radiation therapy for medulloblastoma or early ALL therapies in the 1960s), growth can be affected by two separate mechanisms-GHD and direct damage to the spine.

Amputation and limb-sparing surgery

Amputation and limb-sparing surgery prevent local recurrence of bone tumors by removal of all gross and microscopic disease. If optimally executed, both procedures accomplish an en bloc excision of tumor with a margin of normal uninvolved tissue. The type of surgical procedure, the primary tumor site, and the age of the patient affect the risk of postsurgical complications.[24] Complications in survivors treated with amputation include stump-prosthetic problems, chronic stump pain, phantom limb pain, and bone overgrowth.[25,26] While limb-sparing surgeries may offer a more aesthetically pleasing outcome, complications have been reported more frequently in survivors who underwent these procedures than in those treated with amputation. Complications after limb-sparing surgery include non-union, pathologic fracture, aseptic loosening, limb-length discrepancy, endoprosthetic fracture, poor joint movement, and stump-prosthesis problems.[25,27] Occasionally, refractory complications develop after limb-sparing surgery and require amputation.[28,29] A number of studies have compared functional outcomes after amputation and limb-sparing surgery, but results have been limited by inconsistent methods of functional assessment and small cohort sizes. Overall, data suggest that limb-sparing surgery results in better function than amputation, but differences are relatively modest.[25,29] Similarly, long-term quality of life outcomes among survivors undergoing amputation and limb sparing procedures have not differed substantially.[28]

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