Impact of age and cranial irradiation on radiographic skeletal pathology in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia
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BACKGROUND: Symptomatic osteopenia is a common form of morbidity in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) before, during, and after treatment. A causal role for corticosteroids has been proposed, but other investigators have suggested that cranial irradiation is an important factor contributing to this disorder. PROCEDURE: In this study of children with ALL, all of whom received steroids, skeletal morbidity was assessed radiographically by an observer who was blinded to the ages of the children, their risk categorization (and related treatment), and the timing of the assessments with respect to the administration of therapy. DISCUSSION: Skeletal morbidity was most prevalent in older subjects who had been given cranial radiotherapy. However, there was no difference in the frequency of fractures in two groups of younger children (< or = 9 years of age), one irradiated and the other not. CONCLUSIONS: It is likely that corticosteroid therapy plays an important part in the pathogenesis of this disorder. The role played by cranial irradiation is much less certain.
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