Editor’s Pick: Muscle Dysfunction in Childhood Cancer: Biological Mechanisms and Implications for Long-Term Survivorship

Paediatric oncology therapy has advanced significantly; this improvement is in large part due to experimental treatments and therapies. Nielsen et al. deliver a fascinating piece for this year’s EMJ Oncology eJournal, providing an in-depth review of some of the implications of paediatric cancer treatments in terms of complications in later life. Muscle toxicities are only one of the wide-ranging, short and long-term physiological manifestations that can occur. The authors go on to assess the value of exercise-oncology in helping to reduce such complications.

Martin K.F. Nielsen,1 Hanne B. Larsen,1 Kjeld Schmiegelow,1,2 *Jesper F. Christensen3

1. Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
2. Institute of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
3. Centre of Inflammation and Metabolism/Centre for Physical Activity Research (CIM/CFAS), Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
*Correspondence to jesper.frank.christensen@regionh.dk

Disclosure: The authors have declared no conflicts of interest.
Received: 11.08.16 Accepted: 18.10.16
Citation: EMJ Oncol. 2016;4[1]:78-85.


Paediatric cancer treatment has advanced significantly over the last half century to a point where >80% of all childhood cancer cases survive >5 years from diagnosis. However, childhood cancer treatments cause a wide range of long-term adverse effects including endocrine dysfunctions, impaired physical function, and a markedly increased risk of developing metabolic and cardiovascular complications. Emerging evidence suggests that treatment-related muscle toxicities may play a key role in the development of such late effects, but limited research has been performed towards elucidating this phenomenon and therapeutic countermeasures are scarcely available in clinical practice. Here, we review the current literature describing the physiological manifestations of treatment-induced muscular toxicities in paediatric oncology and discuss the use of structured exercise as a targeted countermeasure.

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