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June 2010 Some Childhood Cancer Survivors More Likely to Have Heart Problems From the American Society for Clinical Oncology 2010 annual conference:
In a recent study, researchers discovered that childhood cancer survivors who have one of two specific variations of a gene, called CBR1 and CBR3, were more likely to develop anthracycline-related heart problems than those without the gene. Anthracyclines are a type of drug used to treat many childhood cancers, but one long-term side effect can be future heart problems. The most common heart problem caused by anthracyclines is called cardiomyopathy, which is when the heart cannot easily pump blood.
Because anthracyclines are dangerous to the heart, higher doses of these drugs are more likely to cause cardiomyopathy in the future. However, for survivors with the CBR1 and CBR3 gene variations there is less of a difference in the risk of heart problems when comparing low and high doses of anthracyclines.
This is because these gene variations can take low doses of anthracyclines and change them into substances that are also dangerous to the heart, further increasing the risk of cardiomyopathy. When compared with survivors without these gene variations who received low-dose anthracyclines, survivors with the CBR1 gene variation are about five times more likely to develop cardiomyopathy, and those with the CBR3 gene variation are about three times more likely to develop cardiomyopathy.
What This Means for Patients
“Although we depend heavily on anthracyclines for treating children with cancer, we are fully aware of the side effects to the heart. We also know that some patients – despite receiving higher doses – don’t develop heart problems, while others who received lower doses do,” said senior author Smita Bhatia, MD, MPH, Professor and Chair of the Department of Population Sciences at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California.
“Our results are a good example of how understanding the genetic makeup of a person with cancer can help us better tailor individual therapies.” Research on this topic is ongoing, and tests for these genes may not be available outside of clinical trials. In the future, doctors may be able to test for these genes to find out which children with cancer have a higher risk of heart problems from anthracyclines. These children could receive treatments that are less likely to damage the heart.
Prenatal Multivitamin Supplementation Reduces Pediatric Cancer Risk, Posted June 2009
In a paper published in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, a Canadian team of researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the potential protective effect of prenatal multivitamins on several pediatric cancers. Several large medical databases were searched for studies published in all languages from 1960 to July 2005.
Rates of cancers in children of women supplemented with multivitamins were compared with unsupplemented women. Seven articles met the inclusion criteria and were used for this review.
Results from the review showed a protective effect of multivitamins on leukemia, pediatric brain tumors and neuroblastoma.
The researchers concluded that although the individual components linked to the protective benefit are unknown, prenatal multivitamins taken during pregnancy are associated with a reduced incidence of certain pediatric cancers in addition to neural tube defects.
‘Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics’, (2007) 81, 685–691