Purpose: We evaluated the long-term effects of treatment on height and weight in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) treated with one of the following three different CNS therapies: intrathecal therapy alone, intrathecal therapy with conventional cranial radiation, or intrathecal therapy with twice-daily radiation.
Patients and Methods: Between 1987 and 1995, 618 children treated on two consecutive Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Consortium protocols for ALL were measured for height and weight at diagnosis, and approximately every 6 months thereafter. Patient height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) were converted to z scores for age and sex using the 2000 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts for the United States.
Results: Children younger than 13 years at diagnosis had a statistically significant decrease in their height z scores and an increase in their BMI z scores, regardless of whether they had received cranial radiation. Young age at diagnosis and increased chemotherapy intensity were major risk factors. Unexpectedly, there was no significant difference in long-term height between children who received radiation and those who did not.
Conclusion: Final height is compromised in survivors of ALL. The detrimental effects on height occur during therapy without the ability for long-term catch-up growth. Although patients became overweight for height, this seemed to be a result of relative height loss with normal weight gain rather than accelerated weight gain. The type of CNS treatment received did not affect changes in height, weight, or BMI.