Childhood cancer survivors are at a heightened risk of developing pre-frailty, frailty, and sarcopenia, according to a study published in The Lancet. The study, conducted in the Netherlands, examined these conditions’ prevalence and risk factors in a national cohort of childhood cancer survivors diagnosed between 1963 and 2001.
The study analyzed data from 1,347 childhood cancer survivors with a median age of 41. It found that the prevalence of pre-frailty, frailty, and sarcopenia was 41%, 4%, and 8%, respectively, which were significantly higher than those observed in the general Dutch population. Pre-frailty is a condition characterized by a decline in physical function. In contrast, frailty is a state of vulnerability to adverse health outcomes, and sarcopenia is a loss of muscle mass and strength.
Several risk factors were identified for these conditions in childhood cancer survivors, including older age at diagnosis, female gender, radiotherapy treatment, and chronic health conditions. Survivors of specific cancer types, such as central nervous system tumors, lymphoma, and leukemia, were also at higher risk of developing pre-frailty, frailty, and sarcopenia.
The study’s findings highlight the importance of long-term follow-up care for childhood cancer survivors to identify and manage the risk factors associated with these conditions. The mean age of onset for pre-frailty, frailty, and sarcopenia in childhood cancer survivors was 33 years, emphasizing the need for early identification and intervention for endocrine disorders and dietary deficiencies to minimize their risk.
The study’s findings also provide a clear risk profile for childhood cancer survivors who are at risk of developing these conditions, aiding in clinical case-finding. Identifying modifiable risk factors also offers a rationale for interventions that could benefit all survivors. Early identification and counseling for endocrine disorders and supplementation of vitamin deficiencies are simple interventions to minimize the risk of these conditions.
The study found that being underweight was associated with pre-frailty or frailty, potentially due to low appendicular lean mass in these individuals. At the same time, obesity was linked with pre-frailty, mainly observed in female survivors. The study suggests that tailored exercise and nutrition programs could improve childhood cancer survivors’ physical function and quality of life.
In conclusion, childhood cancer survivors are at a higher risk of developing pre-frailty, frailty, and sarcopenia, emphasizing the need for long-term follow-up care to identify and manage risk factors associated with these conditions. Healthcare providers should provide tailored exercise and nutrition programs to improve childhood cancer survivors’ physical function and quality of life.
Early identification and adequate counseling for endocrine disorders and supplementation of vitamin deficiencies could also minimize the risk of pre-frailty, frailty, and sarcopenia in this population. These findings provide valuable information for healthcare providers to develop targeted interventions to minimize the risk of these conditions and improve the health outcomes of childhood cancer survivors.