With increasing survival rates for childhood cancer, there is increased interest in the health and well-being of survivors. Children who have undergone HSCT are at risk of deleterious late effects affecting the cardiovascular, endocrine and musculoskeletal systems1 . Late complications may include avascular necrosis in bone, osteoporosis, cardiopulmonary disease, neurological complications and more2 . Being sedentary can exacerbate these conditions. Studies indicate that childhood cancer survivors are not meeting the WHO physical activity guidelines and are less active than healthy peers3 . However, despite the increased risk of health concerns for HSCT survivors, no studies have specifically investigated the physical and sedentary activity levels of this population.
This study was a cross-sectional survey of children (aged 6-18 years) who were more than 1-year post-HSCT. Children were recruited from the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network. Parents and children completed a physical activity questionnaire which included questions relating to sedentary behaviour and barriers and facilitators to physical activity.
35 children were recruited (56% boys). Less than half (48.3%) were sufficiently active in summer and only 51.7% were sufficiently active in winter school terms compared with 63% (summer) and 51% (winter) of healthy NSW school children. Fifty nine percent exceeded recommended daily screen time (ST). Fifty percent of children were less active than pre-transplant, whilst 50% were similarly or more active. The most common barriers cited were fatigue, physical limitations and poor motivation. Facilitators towards exercise included children being more health conscious and having higher energy levels.
Early results indicate that physical activity participation is low among childhood HSCT survivors. As survival rates increase, interventions that encourage increased physical activity and decreased ST may be beneficial to maximize long-term health and well-being. Common barriers to physical activity were treatment-related indicating that HSCT survivors may require individualized exercise programs that consider their needs.