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Genetic variant increases stroke risk in childhood cancer survivors



– Adult survivors of childhood cancers are at significantly greater risk than the general population for late-term complications related to therapy, including secondary cancers, cardiovascular disease, and cerebrovascular complications, including ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes.

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In particular, childhood cancer survivors have an approximately eightfold higher risk for stroke, compared with their siblings, with a history of cranial irradiation being a strong, dose-dependent risk factor for stroke.

Researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., are conducting a retrospective cohort study with prospective clinical follow-up and ongoing enrollment of childhood cancer survivors who are 5 or more years out of therapy.

The study includes publicly available, whole-genome sequencing data on 4,500 participants. Sifting through these data, Yadav Sapkota, PhD, a clinical research scientist at St. Jude, and his colleagues have identified a genetic variant strongly associated with stroke risk in survivors of European ancestry, and they have replicated the finding in survivors of African ancestry.

In a video interview at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, Dr. Sapkota describes his group’s findings and potential research and clinical implications.

The study was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization of St. Jude. Dr. Sapkota declared no conflict of interest.

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