Childhood cancer is not a disease that can be prevented with lifestyle changes, but cardiovascular disease is. As more children with cancer are living to adulthood, this is, fortunately in a way, a problem many will have to face, but unfortunately one they have to face at a higher rate than the rest of society.
A new study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, found that 1 in 12 adults who defeated childhood cancer have undiagnosed hypertension.1
The study examined more than 3000 adults who had survived a childhood cancer by 10 years or more. Resting blood pressure (BP) measurements were taken, and the research team found that hypertension rates among childhood cancer survivors increased significantly with age and were higher than expected for their specific age, race, gender, age, and body mass index (BMI). The study didn't connect hypertension to any specific type of childhood cancer or treatment, except for nephrectomy, according to the report.
Over the course of the study, 8% of childhood cancer survivors studied were found to have previously undiagnosed hypertension, and 22% with a previous diagnosis of hypertension were uncontrolled. The research team also looked at BP measurements going back nearly 4 years in a subset of the study group and found that 5% of participants with previously normal BP developed hypertension in that period and another 21% had prehypertension BP measurements.
Examining the study population by age, researchers found that 13% of childhood cancer survivors developed hypertension by age 30 years, 37% by age 40 years, and 70% by age 50 years. These rates increased more sharply with age than in the general population, according to the report, with rates of hypertension in childhood cancer matching those of individuals aged about 10 years older in the general population.
Although rates of developing hypertension or not generally were not affected by the type of childhood cancer diagnosis, researchers did note that survivors of Wilms tumors generally had the highest age-specific prevalence. Other factors associated with increased risk of hypertension outside cancer diagnosis and care included male gender, black race, and increased age and weight—much like the rest of the general population.