Expert Explores the Relationship Between Down Syndrome and Leukemia


In this episode of the “Cancer Horizons” podcast, an expert unpacks cancer risks for individuals with Down syndrome and analyzes the results of a recent study about mortality risks for childhood survivors later in life.

Recent research found that survivors of childhood leukemia with Down syndrome had an increased mortality risk later in life when compared with survivors without Down syndrome or those with Down syndrome who did not ever have leukemia.

In this episode of the “Cancer Horizons” podcast, expert Dr. Ana Xavier, an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at The University of Alabama at Birmingham Heersink School of Medicine, provided some more insight on these findings as well as why people with Down syndrome may be at higher risk for leukemia.

“(Patients with) Down syndrome … do have a high risk of developing leukemia than non-Down syndrome patients, especially in pediatric age,” Xavier said in an interview with CURE®. “But what's interesting, though, is that we don't have data, or we still don't have enough data, that we can understand how those patients do long term. And when we say long term, we’re talking about not five years after completion of therapy, we're talking about decades after completion of therapy — 10, 20, 30, 40 years after. You can imagine a little kid, age four, with Down syndrome — what can we tell their family what's going to happen when he or she is at 40 or 50 years of age?”

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