Long-term and late treatment consequences: endocrine and metabolic effects

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Cancer therapies often result in the ‘late effect of cancer treatment’ whereby secondary health complications emerge years after radiotherapy and chemotherapy. This review focuses on endocrine and metabolic consequences in adult cancer survivors as late treatment effects.

Recent findings

Endocrine and metabolic disorders are among the most common late effects. Endocrine disorders include hypopituitarism, which leads to growth hormone deficiency, hypogonadism, adrenal insufficiency and hypothyroidism and related clinical manifestations. Hypogonadism in particular is associated with a wide range of health complications requiring input from the like of endocrine and fertility specialists. Immune checkpoint inhibitors are novel anticancer agents, some of which are uniquely associated with hypophysitis which requires early recognition and management, including steroid replacement. Metabolic syndrome, a significant risk for cardiovascular disease, is highly prevalent. Although the effects of cranial irradiation on the hypothalamic–pituitary system are more apparent, the relationship between chemotherapy and endocrine/metabolic disorders remains to be elucidated. There exist published guidelines for monitoring endocrine and cardiometabolic risk in cancer survivors, but the extent of monitoring appears insufficient.

Summary

Regular monitoring and early management of endocrine/metabolic disorders is required to prevent the elevated rates of health complications after cancer treatment, and thereby improve cancer survivorship.

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