Radiation Treatment for Cancer Causes Diabetes in Children

Radiation treatment for cancer causes diabetes in children: Individuals undergoing radiation therapy for treating childhood cancers are at high risk of developing diabetes.

Himanshu Sharma
DiabetesWritten by: Himanshu SharmaPublished at: Apr 23, 2012
Radiation Treatment for Cancer Causes Diabetes in Children

Radiation Treatment for Cancer Causes Diabetes in Children

Treatment of cancer by radiation therapy during childhood increases chance of diabetes. Radiation therapy has its after affects due to which risk of morbidity and mortality alleviates. Several researchers around the world correlate cardiovascular mortality with cancer treatment. Body radiation therapy is usually done before bone marrow transplants to treat leukaemia.

According to the research conducted by Emory University which was published Archives of Internal Medicine, 75 percent of children treated with radiation therapy develop a chronic health condition within 30 years. The percentage of children developing disabling or life-threatening health conditions becomes 42.4 percent. Emory University researchers found out that children treated with whole-body radiation 7.2 times more likely than normal children to develop diabetes.

Cancer Radiation Therapy and Diabetes

There are several factors that might cause diabetes in children after radiation therapy, which include age, body mass index, ethnicity, exercise, income, race and security. Risk of diabetes was observed to have increased with radiation dose and drop was observed with age of diagnosis.

"It is imperative that clinicians recognize this risk, screen for diabetes and pre-diabetes when appropriate, and approach survivors with aggressive risk-reducing strategies," said Dr. Lillian Meacham of Emory University in Atlanta.

Cancer in Children  

  • Cancer in childhood is a result of DNA changes in cells that occur early in life, could also occur before birth.
  • 12 major types of childhood cancers, which include leukaemia (blood cell cancers), brain cancer and central nervous system cancer, are quite common.
  • Common type of leukaemia in children is acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, while commonest solid cancer tumours are brain tumours.
  • Childhood cancers usually appear suddenly, without reflecting early symptoms, and are high curing probability.
  • Treatment of childhood cancer depends on symptoms, cancer type and its current stage.
  • Medical treatments include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

All about Radiation Therapy

  • Radiations are directed at genetic material cancer cells, in order to destroy these or prevent cells’ multiplication.
  • Objective in a radiation therapy is to place radioactive substances either inside a body cavity or implant inside the tumour.
  • Normal cells surrounding cancer cells can be damaged as well, which is foremost disadvantage of radiation therapy.
  • Radiations in the form of X-ray beams, gamma rays and beams of subatomic particles are used in this medical procedure.


Read more articles on Diabetes