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No Increase in Birth Defects for Offspring of Cancer Survivors

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 (Last Updated: 12/14/2011)

TUESDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- For survivors of childhood cancer treated with chemotherapy or gonadal radiation, there is no increased risk of congenital anomalies in their offspring, according to a study published online Dec. 12 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Lisa B. Signorello, Sc.D., from the International Epidemiology Institute in Rockville, Md., and colleagues investigated the risk of congenital anomalies in the offspring of childhood cancer survivors. A retrospective cohort analysis was performed on validated cases of congenital anomalies among 4,699 children of 1,128 male and 1,627 female childhood cancer survivors. Exposure to chemotherapy with alkylating agents, and radiation doses to the testes and ovaries were quantified, and correlated with the risk of congenital anomalies.

The investigators identified at least one anomaly in 129 children, with a prevalence of 2.7 percent. The prevalence of anomalies among children born to mothers exposed to radiation or alkylating agents, versus those born of mothers not exposed to either, was 3.0 versus 3.5 percent (P = 0.51). The corresponding figures for children of male survivors were 1.9 versus 1.7 percent (P = 0.79). There was no significant association between the risk of congenital anomalies and radiation dose to the ovaries or testes. There was no significant association between treatment with alkylating agents and anomalies in the children of male or female survivors.

"Our findings offer strong evidence that the children of cancer survivors are not at significantly increased risk for congenital anomalies," the authors write.

One of the study authors disclosed financial ties to Eli Lilly.

Full Text

Specialties Hematology & Oncology
Emergency Medicine
Family Practice
Internal Medicine

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