Growth hormone deficiency after chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children who have not received cranial radiation

Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2006 Feb;46(2):258-61. doi: 10.1002/pbc.20485.


Chemotherapy-related growth failure is a significant problem in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and other childhood cancers. Growth impairment after cranial radiation (CR) can result in diminished adult height, but growth failure following chemotherapy without CR is usually followed by catch-up growth and normal adult height.1 A retrospective review of 347 ALL survivors registered in our Long Term Follow Up (LTFU) Clinic, since 1997 revealed that 109 had received CR; 3, total body irradiation (TBI); and 235, neither CR nor TBI. For patients whose growth velocity slowed, growth hormone (GH) levels and pediatric endocrinology referrals were obtained. Among the 112 ALL survivors who had received some form of CR, 5 had significant growth failure with growth hormone deficiency (GHD). Among the 235 ALL survivors treated with chemotherapy without CR, 2 were diagnosed with growth failure and GHD. We report the two survivors of childhood ALL treated with chemotherapy without CR who required GH replacement due to absence of catch-up growth. A 15-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl, off therapy for 9 and 6 years, respectively, were evaluated for decreased growth velocity and failure of catch-up growth. Peak GH responses to stimulation using arginine and clonidine were 3.4 and 3.0 ng/ml, respectively (normal >10 ng/ml). Other causes of growth failure were ruled out, and GH replacement therapy was instituted. Their chemotherapy had included methotrexate, 6 mercaptopurine, vincristine, adriamycin, cyclophosphamide, L-asparaginase, dexamethasone, cytarabine, 6 thioguanine, and intrathecal methotrexate. The growth of all children treated with intensive chemotherapy, regardless of whether CR was administered, should be closely monitored with measurement of standing height at 6 months intervals until growth is complete.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Arginine / administration & dosage
  • Body Height / drug effects
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clonidine / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Growth Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Growth Disorders / etiology
  • Growth Hormone / deficiency*
  • Growth Hormone / therapeutic use*
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / complications*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / drug therapy
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Sympatholytics / administration & dosage


  • Sympatholytics
  • Growth Hormone
  • Arginine
  • Clonidine