Pulmonary complications in survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer. A report from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study

Cancer. 2002 Dec 1;95(11):2431-41. doi: 10.1002/cncr.10978.


Background: The Childhood Cancer Survivor Study is a resource that was designed to investigate long-term effects among 5-year survivors of childhood and adolescent malignancies. Previous studies have shown that exposure to chemotherapy and/or radiation can compromise pulmonary function in these survivors of childhood cancer.

Methods: Using information obtained from questionnaires from 12,390 childhood cancer survivors and 3546 randomly selected siblings, the authors evaluated the rate of first occurrence of 15 selected pulmonary conditions in three periods: during therapy, from the end of therapy to 5 years postdiagnosis, and >/= 5 years postdiagnosis. Multivariate analyses were used to determine the relative risks with 95% confidence intervals of reported pulmonary conditions by exposure to the following treatment variables: radiation therapy to the chest, bleomycin, cyclophosphamide, busulfan, lomustine (CCNU), and/or carmustine (BCNU).

Results: Compared with siblings, survivors had a statistically significant increased relative risk (RR) of lung fibrosis, recurrent pneumonia, chronic cough, pleurisy, use of supplemental oxygen, abnormal chest wall, exercise-induced shortness of breath, bronchitis, recurrent sinus infection, and tonsillitis for all three periods. During the period of >or= 5 years postdiagnosis, statistically significant associations were present for lung fibrosis and chest radiation (RR, 4.3; P = 0 001); for supplemental oxygen use and chest radiation (RR, 1.8; P < 0.001), BCNU (RR, 1.4; P = 0.05), bleomycin (RR, 1.7; P = 0.001), busulfan (RR, 3.2; P = 0.002), CCNU (RR, 2.1; P < 0.001), and cyclophosphamide (RR, 1.5; P = 0.01); for recurrent pneumonia and chest radiation (RR, 2.2; P = 0.001) and cyclophosphamide (RR, 1.6; P = 0.04); for chronic cough and chest radiation (RR, 2.0; P < 0.001), bleomycin (RR, 1.9; P < 0.001), and cyclophosphamide (RR, 1.3; P = 0.004); and for pleurisy and chest radiation (RR, 1.4; P = 0.02) and busulfan (RR, 5.1; P = 0.02). Chest radiation was associated with a 3.5% cumulative incidence of lung fibrosis at 20 years after diagnosis.

Conclusions: For self-report of pulmonary conditions, treatment-related factors that continue to manifest > 5 years after diagnosis and treatment are important determinants of risk. Continued follow-up of childhood cancer survivors is needed to evaluate the impact of pulmonary conditions on quality of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lung Diseases / epidemiology
  • Lung Diseases / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Prognosis
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Survivors*


  • Antineoplastic Agents