Relative Osteopenia after Treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

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Abstract

ABSTRACT

Osteoporosis in adult life is associated with a significant morbidity and may be predisposed to by osteopenia and failure to reach peak bone mass in childhood. Children treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) may be at risk of osteopenia as a result of previous therapy or as a consequence of the disease process itself. Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry measurements of bone mineral content (BMC) for the whole body and at the lumbar spine and hip were taken in 35 (14 male) long-term survivors of ALL and compared with results in 20 (10 male) survivors of other malignancies and 31 (17 male) healthy sibling controls. The measured BMC was expressed as a percentage of a predicted value derived from the control group and based on the variables that had influence upon it. BMC (%) was reduced at the spine in the ALL group compared with controls [92.4 (8.0)% versus 100.4 (9.7)%, respectively; p < 0.005] and at the hip compared with both other malignancies and controls [89.0 (11.5)% versus 96.1 (11.7)% and 100.4 (9.2)%, respectively; p < 0.0005]. Increasing length of time off therapy was associated with a significant increase in %BMC at both the spine and the hip. For the spine, this association was significantly different between the ALL group and other malignancies, suggesting that any gain in %BMC after therapy was slower in children treated for ALL. Both exercise capacity and levels of physical activity were correlated with %BMC at the hip (r = 0.44, p < 0.001 and r = 0.29, p < 0.01, respectively). Previous exposure to methotrexate, ifosfamide, and bleomycin was associated with a reduction in %BMC at the spine. Exposure to 6-mercaptopurine and cisplatin was associated with a reduction at the hip. In conclusion, children treated for ALL are osteopenic. The mechanism is probably multifactorial but is partially related to previous chemotherapy, limited exercise capacity, and relative physical inactivity.

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