A systematic review of selected musculoskeletal late effects in survivors of childhood cancer

Prasad L. Gawade, Melissa M. Hudson, Sue C. Kaste, Joseph P. Neglia, Karen Wasilewski-Masker, Louis S. Constine, Leslie L. Robison, Kirsten K. Ness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Survivors of childhood cancer are at risk for treatment-related musculoskeletal late effects. Early detection and orthopedic intervention can help ameliorate musculoskeletal late effects and prevent subsequent complications. This systematic review summarizes the literature describing associations between cancer, its treatment, and musculo- skeletal late effects. We searched PubMed and Web of Science for English language articles published between Janu- ary 1970 and December 2012. The search was limited to investigations with at least 15 participants and conducted at least 2 years after completion of therapy for childhood, adolescent, or young adult cancer. Some late skeletal effects, including low bone mineral density, osteonecrosis, slipped capital femoral epiphyses, oncogenic rickets, and hormone- related growth disturbances have been previously reviewed and were excluded, as were outcomes following amputa- tion and limb-salvage procedures. Of 2347 references identified, 30 met inclusion criteria and were retained. An addi- tional 54 studies that met inclusion criteria were found in reference lists of retained studies. Of 84 studies, 60 focused on associations between radiotherapy, six between chemotherapy, and 18 between surgery and musculoskeletal late ef- fects. We found that younger age, higher radiation dosage, and asymmetric or partial bone radiation volume influences the effects of radiation on the musculoskeletal system. Methotrexate and vincristine are associated with long-term muscular strength and flexibility deficits. Laminectomy and chest wall resection are associated with spinal mala- lignment, and enucleation is associated with orbital deformities among survivors. Radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and surgery are associated with musculoskeletal late effects independently and additively. Associations are additionally in- fluenced by host and treatment characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-262
Number of pages14
JournalCurrent Pediatric Reviews
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Bentham Science Publishers.


  • Craniofacial abnormalities
  • Musculoskeletal diseases
  • Neoplasms
  • Pediatrics
  • Radiation
  • Scoliosis
  • Thoracic wall


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