A-T and Cancer

A-T and cancer

People with A-T have a greatly increased risk of developing cancers. In the United Kingdom the lifetime probability for a person with A-T to develop cancer appears to be to be just over 20%. However the exact incidence may vary according to the type of mutation.

A recent study carried out in the UK and the Netherlands* showed that up to the age of 16, the cancers were predominantly lymphoid cancers, for example lymphomas or lymphoid leukaemias. Over the age of 16, cancers were fairly evenly divided between lymphoid and other cancers.  The most common non-lymphoid cancer was breast cancer, which was found exclusively in women over the age of 16, but others included non lymphoid-leukaemias, brain tumours and endocrine cancers.

One major issue in treating cancers in people with A-T is that radiotherapy cannot be used due to the radio-sensitivity the condition brings.  It is also inappropriate to use drugs that mimic the effects of radiation. As cancers are usually treated locally rather than in the national centres, and vary considerably in their type, it has taken a longer time to build up clinical expertise in treating them.

Today there is a growing knowledge and experience in the treatment of cancers in A-T. Anyone with A-T who is diagnosed with cancer is advised to contact our 'Support Team' Kay Atkins (Family Support Manager) or Anne Murray (Family Support Co-ordinator) on 01582 760733 or email support. Kay or Anne will ensure that their doctors are put in touch with more experienced colleagues in the UK and abroad.

There is more information on treating cancer in the clinical guidance document published by the A-T Society in October 2014.

* Reiman et al, Br J Cancer 2011, 105: 586-591. This paper can be read on-line at http://www.nature.com/bjc/archive/.




Cells from Hodgkins Lymphoma

Cells from Hodgkin's lymphoma, one of the cancers to which people with A-T are susceptible.