Bone mineral density in young adult survivors of childhood cancer.
PURPOSE: Childhood cancer and its treatment can affect normal bone accretion. In this study, bone mineral density (BMD) in young adult survivors of childhood cancer is assessed to determine what cancer-related factors, patient characteristics, or treatment-related complications correlate with reductions in BMD. PATIENTS AND METHODS: The study population consisted of 40 (24 women) long-term survivors of childhood cancer treated at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for a solid tumor (n = 16), lymphoma (n = 14), or acute leukemia (n = 10) at a mean age of 12.7 +/- 0.96 years and evaluated at a mean age of 25.8 +/- 0.7 years. Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry was used to determine BMD of the lumbar spine, femoral neck, and total body and single photon absorptiometry was used to determine BMD of the distal radius. RESULTS: The mean BMD standard deviation score (SDS) for the patients was significantly reduced compared to controls at the distal radius (-1.57 +/- 0.18, p = 0.0001), femoral neck (-0.68 +/- 0.20, p = 0.00014), and total body (-0.33 +/- 0.15, p = 0.03) but not at the lumbar spine (-0.22 +/- 0.22, p = 0.33). Univariate analysis revealed that gonadal dysfunction (i.e., estrogen or testosterone insufficiency) (p = 0.018) was the only variable that correlated with a reduced BMD. CONCLUSION: Young adult survivors of childhood cancer have reduced BMD. Because age at study coincides with the normal age of attainment of peak bone mass and peak bone mass is a major determinant of BMD later in life, many of these patients are at increased risk for osteoporosis and fractures.