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Bone mineral density and serum bone turnover markers in survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia: comparison of megadose methylprednisolone and conventional-dose prednisolone treatments.

Am J Hematol 2005 Oct;80(2):113-8

Hacettepe University, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Sihhiye, Ankara, Turkey.

During recent decades, the survival rate after childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) has improved substantially; consequently, the long-term side effects of ALL and its treatment have gained attention, of which osteoporosis is one of the most important. The purpose of the present study was to compare the influence of different treatment protocols that include high-dose methylprednisolone (HDMP) versus conventional-dose prednisolone (CDP) for remission-induction therapy on bone mineral density (BMD) and serum bone turnover markers in survivors of childhood ALL after cessation of chemotherapy. Thirty-six boy and 23 girl survivors, treated for ALL, were cross-sectionally studied, at a mean age of 11.7 years (range 6-19). Group 1 (n = 30) received CDP therapy (prednisolone, 2 mg/kg/day, orally) and group 2 (n = 29) received HDMP therapy (prednol-L, 900-600 mg/m2, orally). All other therapies were similar in both groups. Cranial irradiation was added for high-risk patients as soon as possible after consolidation therapy. We found that mean lumbar spine BMD z score value was -1.75 (0.83) SDS in group 1 and -1.66 (1.21) SDS in group 2. There is no difference between both groups (P = 0.736). The mean BMD z scores of prepubertal and pubertal patients were not significantly different in both groups. Comparison of serum bone turnover parameters of the patients revealed no difference between the two groups. Stepwise regression analysis revealed that lumbar spine BMD z scores was predicted by height SDS and the time past since cessation of therapy, but not age at diagnosis, BMI SDS, cranial radiotherapy, and puberty. Our study results showed that HDMP treatment did not deteriorate the bone mass any more than CDP treatment. These results proved that high-dose steroid therapy over a short period of time in remission-induction treatment would not affect the bone mass any more adversely than would conventional doses approximately 3 years after cessation of chemotherapy.

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