New guidelines on how to diagnose, treat endocrine disorders in childhood cancer survivors

The Endocrine Society today issued a Clinical Practice Guideline advising healthcare providers on how to diagnose and treat the endocrine disorders that affect a significant portion of childhood cancer survivors in the United States today.

The guideline, titled "Hypothalamic-Pituitary and Growth Disorders in Survivors of Childhood Cancer: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline," was published online and will appear in the July 2018 print issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM), a publication of the Endocrine Society. Recent data shows that almost 50 percent of these survivors will develop an endocrine disorder over their lifetime. The guideline provides recommendations on how to diagnose and manage certain endocrine and growth disorders commonly found in childhood cancer survivors.

Childhood cancer is relatively rare, and due to improvements in treatment and patient care, the current five-year survival rates exceed 80 percent. It's estimated that by 2020, there will be half a million childhood cancer survivors in the United States. These survivors face a greater risk of developing serious medical complications, even decades after cancer treatment ends. Endocrine disorders are especially prevalent among this population, often as a result of their previous treatments, particularly exposure to radiation therapy.

"Childhood cancer survivors have a high risk of developing endocrine disorders," said Charles A. Sklar, M.D., of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, N.Y. Sklar chaired the writing committee that developed the guideline. "Our new guideline addresses the growing risk of endocrine disorders among childhood cancer survivors and suggests best practices for managing pituitary and growth disorders commonly found in this population. The guideline stresses the importance of life-long screening of these survivors for earlier detection and optimal patient care."

Recommendations from the guideline include long-term screening of childhood cancer survivors who underwent radiation therapy to the brain. This population should be screened for growth disorders, pituitary hormone deficiencies, and early puberty. If a condition is diagnosed, in most instances, clinicians should treat these survivors with the same approaches as other patients who develop endocrine conditions.

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