No increased risk of birth defects for children of cancer survivors

13 December 2011

Exposure to cancer treatment such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy as a youngster does not increase the risk of birth defects in future generations of children, a new study has found.

Research conducted by scientists at the Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee found that children of childhood cancer survivors who received treatment to the testes or ovaries using alkylating agents do not have an increased risk of defects compared to children of non-cancer patients.

Lisa Signorello, lead author of the study and associate professor of medicine and senior epidemiologist at the International Epidemiology Institute in Rockville, Maryland and at Vanderbilt University, said: "Childhood cancer survivors face real reproductive concerns, including unknowns related to the effects of therapy. But, hopefully this study will provide some reassurance that their children are unlikely to be at increased risk for genetic defects."

She added that the researchers hope this information, published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology, will become a significant knowledge point for those who have suffered from childhood cancer.

Among the most common forms of childhood cancer are lymphoma, leukaemia and brain tumours, according to cancer.net.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

Signorello Lisa, et al., "Congenital Anomalies in the Children of Cancer Survivors: A Report From the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study", The Journal of Clinical Oncology, December 12th 2011.

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