Iron overload is responsible for severe morbidity and mortality in polytransfused patients. Although repeated blood transfusions are needed during the treatment of most cancers, pediatric patients are not routinely screened for subsequent iron overload.
Seventy-five patients were identified as candidates for cancer treatment and enrolled prospectively in a yearly protocol including a cardiac and liver magnetic resonance imaging coupled with ferritin level measurements. Patients were divided into four groups using the intensity of treatment rating (ITR-3).
Fifty-nine patients reached 1-year of follow-up and liver iron overload was found in up to 66% of them. Such overload correlated with the total volume of red blood cells transfused and persisted at least 2 years after the initiation of therapy. Moderate myocardial overload was also, but less frequently (14%), observed in these patients.
Our study demonstrated that severe liver iron overload as well as moderate myocardial iron overload can be found 1 year after cancer treatment and that this overload persists overtime. The patients with higher ITR and those who have received more than a liter of blood red cells per square meter, regardless of their diagnosis or ITR, are at risk of iron overload and should be screened carefully. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2013;60:1982–1987. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.