Increased risk of bone tumors after growth hormone treatment in childhood: A population-based cohort study in France

Amélie Poidvin, Jean-Claude Carel, Emmanuel Ecosse, Dominique Levy, Jean Michon, Joël Coste
Cancer Medicine 2018 June 14
The association between growth hormone (GH) treatment and cancer risk has not been thoroughly evaluated and there are questions about any increased risk of bone tumors. We examined cancer risk and especially bone tumor risk in a population-based cohort study of 6874 patients treated with recombinant GH in France for isolated GH deficiency, short stature associated with low birth weight or length or idiopathic short stature. Adult mortality and morbidity data obtained from national databases and from questionnaires. Case ascertainment completeness was estimated with capture-recapture methods. Standardized mortality and incidence ratios were calculated using national reference data. 111 875 person-years of observation were analyzed and patients were followed for an average of 17.4 ± 5.3 years to a mean age of 28.4 ± 6.2 years. For cancer overall, mortality and incidence were not different from expected figures. Five patients developed bone tumors (chondrosarcoma, 1, Ewing sarcoma, 1, osteosarcoma, 3) of whom 3 died (Ewing sarcoma, 1, osteosarcoma, 2), whereas only 1.4 case and 0.6 deaths were expected: standardized mortality ratio, 5.0 and standardized incidence ratio from 3.5 to 3.8 accounting or not accounting for missed cases. Most patients received conventional doses of GH, although one patient with osteosarcoma had received high dose GH (60 μg/kg/d). This study confirms an increased risk of bone tumors but not overall cancer risk in subjects treated with GH in childhood for isolated GH deficiency or childhood short stature. Further work is needed to elucidate the mechanisms involved.

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