Background: The long-term safety of growth hormone treatment is uncertain. Raised risks of death and certain cancers have been reported inconsistently, based on limited data or short-term follow-up by pharmaceutical companies.
Patients and methods: The SAGhE (Safety and Appropriateness of Growth Hormone Treatments in Europe) study assembled cohorts of patients treated in childhood with recombinant human growth hormone (r-hGH) in 8 European countries since the first use of this treatment in 1984 and followed them for cause-specific mortality and cancer incidence. Expected rates were obtained from national and local general population data. The cohort consisted of 24,232 patients, most commonly treated for isolated growth failure (53%), Turner syndrome (13%) and growth hormone deficiency linked to neoplasia (12%). This paper describes in detail the study design, methods and data collection and discusses the strengths, biases and weaknesses consequent on this.
Conclusion: The SAGhE cohort is the largest and longest follow-up cohort study of growth hormone-treated patients with follow-up and analysis independent of industry. It forms a major resource for investigating cancer and mortality risks in r-hGH patients. The interpretation of SAGhE results, however, will need to take account of the methods of cohort assembly and follow-up in each country.
© 2015 The Author(s) Published by S. Karger AG, Basel.