In a new study led by Yale Cancer Center researchers, neuromuscular dysfunction is found to be prevalent in long-term childhood cancer survivors, continues to increase post-therapy, and is associated with adverse health and socioeconomic outcomes. The findings were published in the journal Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
“These findings are critical for survivors of childhood cancers,” said Rozalyn L. Rodwin, MD, a Post-Doctoral Clinical Fellow in the Department of Pediatrics (Hematology/Oncology) at Yale Cancer Center and lead author of the study. “Children treated for cancer are at risk for neuromuscular dysfunction, but data has been limited regarding prevalence, longitudinal patterns, and long-term impact.”
Rodwin and researchers examined longitudinal surveys from 25,583 childhood cancer survivors more than 5 years from diagnosis and 5,044 siblings from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study. They evaluated the functional deficits that survivors of childhood cancer often face due to their cancer treatment, even long after their treatment is over. Researchers estimated the frequency of conditions that affect strength, sensation, and balance in long-term survivors. The data showed survivors were nearly ten times more likely than siblings to have one of these debilitating conditions, that nearly a quarter of survivors had at least one condition within 20 years following their diagnosis, and that survivors with these conditions were more likely to experience emotional distress and unemployment.
“We hope these findings will result in increased screening and surveillance for neuromuscular dysfunction in survivors of childhood cancer and that this study will highlight the need for better interventions to prevent and treat these conditions,” added Rodwin.
Nina Kadan-Lottick, MD, MSPH, Associate Professor of Pediatrics (Hematology/Oncology) and Disease Aligned Research Team (DART) Leader for Pediatric Cancer at Yale Cancer Center is senior author of the study.