Effects of Growth Hormone Therapy on Bone Mass, Metabolic Balance, and Well-Being in Young Adult Survivors of Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

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Growth hormone deficiency (GHD), mostly after cranial radiotherapy (CRT), may lead to several negative effects. Young adult survivors of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) could benefit from GH therapy in different ways. Twenty ALL survivors (17.1±4.3 y after diagnosis) with low bone mineral densities and/or low insulin-like growth factor-1 were included. Two of the 3 patients who only received chemotherapy had GHD. Of the 20 patients, 17 started with GH therapy and 14 completed the 2-year study period. At several time points, bone mineral density (BMD) was measured. Psychological functioning was assessed. At the start of the study, standard deviation scores of height, insulin-like growth factor-1, lumbar spine, and femoral neck BMD were all below −1. After 2 years of GH therapy, total body BMD and lean mass were significantly higher (P<0.01 and P<0.001, respectively), whereas the percentage fat was significantly lower (P<0.02). Several psychological measures improved significantly after 2 years. In conclusion, GH therapy during 2 years in young adult survivors of childhood ALL did have a number of benefits, such as improvement of total body bone density and body composition. Results also suggest improvement of psychological well being. Furthermore, it also became clear that patients after chemotherapy alone should be tested for GHD.

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