The researchers investigated the incidence of cancer in children with celiac disease, and reported their findings in the July issue of the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.
In adults, the relation between celiac disease and cancer has been long recognized. In children, only 4 cases of celiac disease and cancer have been described in Europe
Members of the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition were sent a postal inquiry. They were asked if they had seen a child with celiac disease and cancer between 1989 and 1999, and if so, to supply additional clinical data.
In addition, information on working place, experience, and number of celiac patients under their care was requested.
Of the society's members, 56% responded.
| A large number of thyroid and small bowel cancers are found in pediatric celiac patients.|
| Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition |
Sixteen members reported 22 cases of cancer and celiac disease in children. One case had been reported in the literature previously.
The tumors reported originated from the brain, thyroid, larynx, liver, small bowel, adrenal, lymphoreticular system, and the musculoskeletal system.
There were found to be no differences between members reporting a case and those who did not.
Author J. J. Schweizer, of the Department of Pediatrics, Leiden University Medical Center, said on behalf of fellow colleagues, "Twenty-one new cases of cancer and celiac disease in children in Europe were found. The incidence of cancer and celiac disease in children is therefore underreported.
"A remarkable number of thyroid and small bowel cancers were found, suggesting a possible relation with celiac disease. It is important to evaluate whether these findings are coincidental."
"All cases of cancer and celiac disease in children should be reported to the literature," it was concluded.