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Arterial Stiffness in Children who Recently Completed Cancer Therapy

University of North Carolina
Sheila Santacroce, PhD
Grant Type: 
Nurse Researcher Grants
Year Awarded: 
Type of Childhood Cancer: 
General Pediatric Cancer
Project Description: 

Children can have psychosocial responses to ongoing traumas involved in being diagnosed, treated and monitored for cancer and treatment-related problems, which in turn could cause bodily responses like systemic inflammation, arterial stiffness and thus risk for cardiovascular (CV) disease. This is especially concerning for children whose therapy included an anthracyline; anthracylines have been linked with CV problems for a long time and CV disease is the leading non-cancer cause of death among childhood cancer survivors.

Systemic inflammation and arterial stiffness are well-established signs of risk for CV disease in adults, and both have linkages to psychosocial responses to traumatic stressors in adults. Little is known about systemic inflammation and arterial stiffness in children following anthracycline therapy. Less is known about whether psychosocial responses to cancer and systemic inflammation can predict arterial stiffness hence future CV disease in this group.

Project Goal
From a sample of children between ages 8 and 17 years whose cancer therapy included an anthracyline, we will collect data at three time points during the first year post successful completion of treatment. We will use the data to describe systemic inflammation, arterial stiffness and psychosocial responses to childhood cancer during this time, and explore psychosocial responses and systemic inflammation as predictors of arterial stiffness. The long-term goal of this research is to test interventions to improve psychosocial and CV outcomes among the increasing population of childhood cancer survivors. Findings about systemic inflammation and arterial stiffness have potential for clinical use in monitoring risk for childhood cancer-related CV disease.

Co-funded by: 
Northwestern Mutual Foundation