Body composition, muscle strength deficits and mobility limitations in adult survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2007 Dec;49(7):975-81. doi: 10.1002/pbc.21091.


Background: Chronicity of muscle weakness from cancer and its treatment may be problematic, particularly in those treated for cancer during childhood. We compared body composition, muscle strength, and mobility between 75 adult survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and expected values based on population normative data.

Methods: Subjects were young adults treated for childhood ALL between 1970 and 1986, selected randomly from participants in an ongoing study of cancer survivors. DeXA scans were performed to evaluate body composition, and myometry used to measure strength. Mobility was evaluated with the Timed Up and Go (TUG) and 2-min walk (TMW). One sample t-tests compared ALL survivors to population norms.

Results: Males had 4.5% and females had 2.3% more body fat than expected (expected males 21.5%, females 36.0%). Males were 76.7 Newtons and females were 58.6 Newtons weaker in quadriceps strength than expected (expected males 569.87 N, females 464.67 N). Males walked 100.88 m and females walked 85.38 m less on the TMW (expected values: males 304.23 m, females 276.26 m), and took longer to complete the TUG (males 5.82 vs. 2.84 sec, females 5.88 vs. 3.00 sec) than expected. Treatment with cranial radiation and current growth hormone (GH) deficiency were associated with lower body weakness among females.

Conclusions: Young adult survivors of childhood ALL have strength and mobility deficits. Decreased strength may reduce ability to participate in physical activity, perpetuating fitness deficits in survivors of childhood ALL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Body Composition*
  • Cranial Irradiation
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Growth Hormone / deficiency
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobility Limitation*
  • Muscle Weakness* / diagnosis
  • Muscle Weakness* / etiology
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / complications
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / diagnosis
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / therapy*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Survivors*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Growth Hormone