Study of Obesity in Survivors of Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (All)




Bhat, Nikhil U.


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The number of childhood cancer survivors has dramatically increased over the last two decades (1, 2). Survivorship programs focus on the health problems childhood cancer survivors face because of their cancer treatments. These programs provide surveillance for health problems, and educate survivors about their risk for health problems, to encourage them to engage in activities to minimize the development of severe health related problems. Clinicians perceive there to be a problem of increasing obesity among leukemia survivors. Obesity should not be considered simply a consequence of an unhealthy lifestyle: it is a condition in which weight gain has reached the point where it poses significant risks to health (3). The use of chemotherapy agents such as anthracyclines and radiation (to the thorax) are associated with cardiovascular disease (4, 5, 6). Obesity in cancer survivors is not yet well understood but may further increase cardiovascular risks. Cancer treatments, lifestyles, and medications other than chemotherapy may contribute to obesity among cancer survivors. Survivors of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) may be more likely to develop obesity or cardiovascular diseases due to their cancer treatments, which include chemotherapy, steroids, and sometimes radiotherapy (7). Strategies to reduce obesity in ALL survivors include a multifaceted approach, drug therapy and interventions to address psychological problems, as well as lifestyle modifications (7, 8). This practicum project examined obesity as an adverse health condition among survivors of childhood ALL. Considering the fact that the there are various factors which may lead to obesity among cancer survivors and all are not proven yet, this practicum project examined whether the type of treatment and the medications given to the patients contributed to the changes in BMI in 2 the patients. The project also evaluated trends in Body Mass Index (BMI) among patients at each time points and the changes in BMI with respect to variables like ethnicity. The objective of this study was to evaluate these trends was to use a database to determine the frequency of obesity among ALL survivors and thereby get some concrete information as to how the type of treatment affected the BMI in the group of patients who were considered for the study and whether there was a trend related to changes in BMI seen in a specific ethnic group which was part of the study. Since obesity is a major risk factor among ALL survivors, steps need to be taken to reduce its threat not only among survivors but also among other people in the community. This project was a step taken in that direction to combat the threat of obesity among ALL survivors.