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Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Subsequent Neoplasms

Table 1. Selected Syndromes of Inherited Cancer Predispositiona continued...

DNA repair polymorphisms

DNA repair mechanisms protect somatic cells from mutations in tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes that can lead to cancer initiation and progression. An individual's DNA repair capacity appears to be genetically determined.[51] A number of DNA repair genes contain polymorphic variants, resulting in large interindividual variations in DNA repair capacity.[51] Evaluation of the contribution of polymorphisms influencing DNA repair to the risk of SN represents an active area of research.

Screening and Follow-up for Subsequent Neoplasms

Vigilant screening is important for those at risk.[52] Because of the relatively small size of the pediatric cancer survivor population and the prevalence and time to onset of therapy-related complications, undertaking clinical studies to assess the impact of screening recommendations on the morbidity and mortality associated with the late effect is not feasible. However, well-conducted studies on large populations of childhood cancer survivors have provided compelling evidence linking specific therapeutic exposures and late effects. This evidence has been used by several national and international cooperative groups (Scottish Collegiate Guidelines Network, Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group, Children's Oncology Group [COG]) to develop consensus-based clinical practice guidelines to increase awareness and standardize the immediate care needs of medically vulnerable childhood cancer survivors. The COG Guidelines employ a hybrid approach that is both evidence-based (utilizing established associations between therapeutic exposures and late effects to identify high-risk categories) and grounded in the collective clinical experience of experts (matching the magnitude of the risk with the intensity of the screening recommendations). The screening recommendations in these guidelines represent a statement of consensus from a panel of experts in the late effects of pediatric cancer treatment.[52]

In regard to screening for malignant SNs recommended by the COG Guidelines, certain high-risk populations of childhood cancer survivors merit heightened surveillance due to predisposing host, behavioral, or therapeutic factors.

  • Screening for leukemia: t-MDS/AML usually manifests within 10 years following exposure. Recommendations include monitoring with annual complete blood count for 10 years after exposure to alkylating agents or topoisomerase II inhibitors.
  • Screening after radiation exposure: Most other SNs are associated with radiation exposure. Screening recommendations include careful annual physical examination of the skin and underlying tissues in the radiation field. Specific comments about screening for more common radiation-associated SNs follow:
    • Screening for early-onset skin cancer: Annual dermatological exam should focus on skin lesions and pigmented nevi in the radiation field. Survivors should be counseled about their increased risk of skin cancer, the potential exacerbation of risk through tanning, and the benefits of adhering to behaviors to protect the skin from excessive ultraviolet radiation exposure.
    • Screening for early-onset breast cancer: Since outcome after breast cancer is directly linked to stage at diagnosis, close surveillance resulting in early diagnosis should confer survival advantage.[53] Mammography, the most widely accepted screening tool for breast cancer in the general population, may not be the ideal screening tool by itself for radiation-related breast cancers occurring in relatively young women with dense breasts; hence, the American Cancer Society recommends including adjunct screening with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).[54] Many clinicians are concerned about potential harms related to radiation exposure associated with annual mammography in these young women. In this regard, it is important to consider that the estimated mean breast dose with contemporary standard two-view screening mammograms is about 3.85 mGy to 4.5 mGy.[55,56,57] Thus, 15 additional surveillance mammograms from age 25 to 39 years would increase the total radiation exposure in a woman treated with 20 Gy of chest radiation to 20.05775 Gy. The benefits of detection of early breast cancer lesions in high-risk women must be balanced by the risk predisposed by a 0.3% additional radiation exposure. To keep young women engaged in breast health surveillance, the COG Guideline recommendations for females who received radiation with potential impact to the breast (i.e., radiation doses of 20 Gy or higher to the mantle, mediastinal, whole lung, and axillary fields) include monthly breast self-examination beginning at puberty; annual clinical breast examinations beginning at puberty until age 25 years; and a clinical breast examination every 6 months, with annual mammograms and MRIs beginning 8 years after radiation or at age 25 years (whichever occurs later).
    • Screening for early-onset colorectal cancer: Screening of those at risk for early-onset colorectal cancer (i.e., radiation doses of 30 Gy or higher to the abdomen, pelvis, or spine) should include colonoscopy every 5 years beginning at age 35 years or 10 years following radiation (whichever occurs later).

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WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
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