Cancer in children with celiac disease: a survey of the European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2001 Jul;33(1):97-100. doi: 10.1097/00005176-200107000-00020.


Background: In adults, the relation between celiac disease (CD) and cancer has been long recognized. In children, only four cases of CD and cancer have been described in Europe. We made a new inventory of cases with CD and cancer in children that were known by the members of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition between 1989 and 1999.

Methods: Postal inquiry was made of all European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition members mentioned on the society's web page. The members were asked if they had seen a child with CD and cancer between 1989 and 1999 and if so, to supply additional clinical data. Also, information on working place, experience, and number of celiac patients under their care was requested.

Results: Fifty-six percent of the members responded. Sixteen members reported 22 cases of cancer and CD in children. One case had been reported in the literature previously. The tumors that were reported originated from the brain, thyroid, larynx, liver, small bowel, adrenal, lymphoreticular system, and the musculoskeletal system. There were no differences between members reporting a case and those who did not.

Conclusions: Twenty-one new cases of cancer and CD in children in Europe were found. Cancer and CD in children are underreported. A remarkable number of thyroid and small bowel cancers were found, suggesting a possible relation with CD. It is important to evaluate whether these findings are coincidental. All cases of cancer and CD in children should be reported to the literature.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Celiac Disease / complications*
  • Celiac Disease / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scandinavian and Nordic Countries / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires