Bone health in long‐term survivors of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia. An assessment by peripheral quantitative computed tomography
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BACKGROUND: Loss of bone mineral is a common concomitant of the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) due mainly to chemotherapy, especially with corticosteroids. Osteopenia/osteoporosis may be encountered long into survivorship. Measurement of bone mineral density (BMD) by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry is limited to two-dimensionality and cannot distinguish trabecular from cortical bone. METHODS: A sample of 74 subjects, ages 13.5-38.3 years more than 10 years from diagnosis, underwent peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) at metaphyseal (trabecular bone) and diaphyseal (cortical bone) sites in the radius and tibia. pQCT provides three-dimensional assessment of bone geometry, density, and architecture. RESULTS: Average values in multiple metrics were similar to those in healthy individuals, but deficits in both trabecular and cortical bones were revealed by lower Z scores using an ethnically comparable sample of healthy individuals. Connectivity, a measure of bone architecture and a surrogate measure of bone strength, was lower in females than males. Survivors of standard-risk ALL had greater connectivity in and more compact trabecular bone than high-risk survivors who had received more intensive osteotoxic chemotherapy. There were no statistically significant differences in any of the metrics at any of the sites between subjects who had or had not a history of fracture, cranial irradiation, or use of a bisphosphonate. CONCLUSIONS: These long-term survivors of ALL have somewhat compromised bone health, but data in comparable healthy populations are limited. Longitudinal studies in larger and more ethnically diverse cohorts will provide greater insight into bone health in this vulnerable population.
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