Chemo for Kids More Dangerous Than Thought

Children with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) who suffer genetic damage caused by chemotherapy may face an increased risk of further cancers and other diseases later in life. The study found 45 children who received chemotherapy and survived their disease had a 200-fold increase in the frequency of somatic mutations in their DNA. These genetic changes remain embedded in the children's DNA. As one researcher said, "Because they have larger numbers of replicating cell populations during their growth and development stages than adults have, they are more susceptible than adults to the effects of the chemotherapies' genotoxicity.

Cancer Research July 1, 2004;64:4464-4471

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